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OMNIACommitted to a Greener World (cont)BME, a game-changer in the mining sectorMining has been an economic mainstay for Southern African economies in recent years, especially over the first disruptive lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic; the task is now to build on the momentum that has been created. According to BME Managing Director Ralf Hennecke, the region's mining activity has shown positive signs as the world economy has rebounded. Sales in minerals such as copper, cobalt, gold, platinum group metals, iron ore, and manganese have all benefited countries like South Africa and Zambia. Botswana, Namibia and Angola have better prospects for commodities such as diamonds, uranium and coal.
He noted that BME's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts also support responsible mining companies' shared value and sustainability commitments, which have embraced the principles of empowerment now being legislated in many countries. "Our in-country partnerships also imply investment in local infrastructure and skills transfer, to build capacity in local supply chains," he said. "Such capacity is vital for mining companies, especially in fields such as blasting and explosives – where reliable supply is crucial for mining to remain competitive."He noted that a company like BME, in aligning with Omnia group policies, prioritizes openness, integrity and accountability. The group's ESG mandate embraces economic, social and environmental relationships through an integrated, sustainable approach that encompasses all stakeholders – including shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, governments and the communities in which it operates.
Mining competitiveness in Southern Africa is also built on ongoing technological innovation – much of it locally developed. The application of digital technology accelerates the inexorable progress toward smart mining operations. In the blasting sector, said Hennecke, this is well demonstrated using blast planning software, electronic detonators and other digital tools.
The motivation driving this trend includes safety, efficiency and productivity and the reduction of carbon emissions. Like their global counterparts, mining companies in the region are acutely aware of environmental regulations and standards, as well as investors' insistence on best practice. "To meet rising ESG and sustainability standards, mines are constantly fine-tuning the quality of their blasting practice, and improving the productive impact of their blasts," he said. "For example, better fragmentation of rock – achieved through quality blasting – optimizes the energy used in downstream functions."Where power consumption can be saved in energy-intensive activities like loading, hauling, crushing and grinding, mines can cut costs while reducing their carbon footprint. For BME, its world-class emulsion explosives, enhanced by its AXXIS electronic initiation system and Blast Alliance suite of digital solutions, help mines to make this possible.
The digital learning curve is strongly driven by data generation, gathering and analysis. Mines leverage real-time information from equipment and processes all over the site for better and quicker decision-making. Hennecke highlights that for this data be intelligible and useful, it must also be integrated into the mine's chosen platforms.
"Suppliers of services, equipment and materials in Southern Africa are fast developing vital expertise in the digital space," he said. "This is enabling mines to track, measure and assess the performance of machines and services – ideally through their own dashboard or interface." Data security is growing in importance; mines must be confident that all systems are protected from outside interference by malicious sources while simultaneously complying with evolving local regulations governing data protection in each country. While mining countries in the region had their own decisions about attracting investment into their mineral sectors, it was encouraging to see the constructive steps taken by the industry to improve its position as an investment target. While certain stereotypes about mining linger in public perception, he argued that the sector has proactively embraced complex ESG challenges."The industry is also expecting its service providers and suppliers to align with these priorities," he said. "This has laid the groundwork for a more constructive relationship with host governments and communities going forward."
For instance, it has taken the impacts of climate change seriously and is engaging more effectively with local communities and other stakeholders. In many respects, mining is pioneering new levels of best practice, using the technological resources at its disposal.
"Southern Africa's opportunity is to grow its mining sector along this positive trajectory, allowing mining to release economic value and contribute even more to broader economic growth," said Hennecke. "By sharing value up and down its value chain within a sustainable operating model, mining holds great potential for stimulating secondary industries and inclusive growth." Protea Chemicals secures access to safe and clean water across Africa.Millions across Africa, many in rural areas, do not have access to clean, safe drinking water or adequate sanitation. Water is also a scarce resource, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where millions of people do not have access to basic drinking water or need to travel great distances to access it. Therefore, it has become increasingly important to provide solutions that ensure continual cost-effective production of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to manage this scarce resource.
Through technical skills and specialized products and services, Protea Chemicals provides solutions to ensure clean and safe drinking water production and effective sanitation for its customers. As an organization, we are aware of the significant impact that water pollution and the lack of clean water can have on all aspects of life, including education, a country's economy, and agriculture. Protea Chemicals directly impacts over 97 million people per day in Africa through the supply of water treatment solutions to the water boards in South Africa and across the region, including Rwanda, Botswana and Uganda, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Protea Chemicals is Africa's leading manufacturer of Polyelectrolyte polymers, with full NSF accreditation. Through our relationship with the world-renowned principals, we provide a comprehensive variety of Polyacrylamide flocculants and defoamers. Our specialized, high-tech facility packages and distributes chlorine gas and efficient disinfection.
As a supplier of coagulants and disinfectants, like chlorine, used to treat water, Protea Chemicals' current clients include major South African municipalities and water boards who can access a tailored solution that includes water testing, training and wastewater treatment. In addition, the business is broadening its client base by expanding its service beyond municipal potable water and wastewater (effluent) treatment to mining and industrial water and wastewater treatment. Powering a cleaner and greener futureAs global emissions and climate change concerns grow, the need for sustainable alternative energy sources has become more important. As a high-quality and innovative chemicals provider, Protea Chemicals is pleased to be part of those efforts to produce cleaner and greener energy through its Hydro Energy™ fuel. Hydrogen fuel cell technology generates energy through a chemical process and offers a solution to help decarbonize the energy and transportation sectors worldwide.In partnership with various stakeholders, Protea Chemicals blends and supplies Hydro Energy™ fuel used to power the seven hydrogen fuel cell systems used at field hospital facilities at Pretoria's 1 Military Hospital as part of the COVID-19 response efforts.
Through a further partnership with a local energy business, Protea Chemicals, supplies its customer with Hydro Energy™ fuel needed for hydrogen fuel cell systems. These hydrogen fuel cells are used to provide backup power to telecommunications towers and help keep South Africans connected during times of power outages.