Manufacture of detonators increased from 1 million units in 2003, to over 1.5 million last year,” says Nigel Convey, managing director of AEL Ghana, “and we anticipate exceeding the 2 million mark in 2005.

“We import the broken down detonator components from AEL head office in South Africa, and assemble them at our facility in Bogoso,” he says. The quality is good, with failure rates of better then 1:1.5 million being seen, and timing well within specification.

This performance – together with new explosives contracts, other potential supply agreements, new projects, and the entry of AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields – have made West Africa a significant market for AEL.

ael explosives 1

Mobile manufacturing units loading
bulk emulsion explosives in
Teberebie pit at Gold Fields
Ghana’s Tarkwa gold mine.

“We have landed several new multi-million-dollar contracts in West Africa,” Convey says. “We have been awarded four contracts worth close to US$12 million.”

This follows on the heels of an exceptionally busy period since the award to AEL Ghana in May last year of a four-year, US$30 million contact for the supply of all the explosives requirements of the Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GGL) Tarkwa mine.

Shortly after this, the existing contract with GGL’s Damang mine was rolled into the overall format and framework, and this was signed in December 2004. Then AEL was awarded a two-year contract for the supply of explosives to what is now the AngloGold Ashanti operation at Obuasi, in Ghana.

“AEL has also secured further new business in both Ghana and Niger,” Convey says.

In Ghana, the company was successful with its tenders for the Bogoso Gold Limited operation at Prestea, and the Wexford Goldfields Limited operation at Wassa. Both of these are affiliates of the Golden Star Resources group.

“These contracts represent a significant development for AEL, as they require the company to manage and operate the entire on-bench loading process, including measuring of holes, priming, charging, stemming, tieup and the provision of blast guards.” This is a major change in AEL’s traditional method of operation in West Africa, and has required the recruitment of additional personnel.

“Both contract durations are for an initial period of two years, and are worth about US$6 million over the two-year period.”

They will require P600 (70/30) doped emulsion to be placed in the hole by mobile manufacturing units (MMUs), as well as the associated boosters and blasting accessories. Capital required to handle these projects amounts to about US$70,000 each, and consists of emulsion storage and MMU loading equipment.

ael explosives 2

Nigel Convey, managing
director of AEL Ghana.

In Niger, AEL has benefited from its previous association with Bayswater Construction (Ghana) Limited (BCM), whom it supplies at the Jean Gobele Mine in Northern Guinea.

“The Senafo group of Morocco has commenced development of its Samira Hill Gold Project in Niger, and has contracted out its mining operations to BCM,” says Convey.

“In turn,” he adds, “BCM has awarded the explosives contract to AEL, and mobilisation for this operation was scheduled to commence in mid June.”

This contract will also require P600 (70/30) doped emulsion to be placed in the hole by an MMU, as well as the associated boosters and blasting accessories.

The BCM contract period is also for an initial two years, and the value should be approximately US$2.5 million. This project will require emulsion storage and MMU loading equipment, and a capital investment of another US$70,000 by AEL. MRA