Mining Indaba 2021
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Omnia solidifies its position as a pioneer in the mining sector

Mining division delivers ground-breaking “world first in Africa” solution for purer metals extraction and initiates the largest detonator blast in South Africa.

Diversified chemicals group, Omnia Holdings (Omnia), is celebrating record-breaking achievements across Protea Mining Chemicals and BME, which together form the Group’s mining division.

Protea Mining Chemicals Copper Production Solution

Protea Mining Chemicals has become the first in its field – globally – to develop a solution that helps copper and cobalt mines reduce product contamination (improving metal purity levels) and maximise throughput in the solvent extraction process. This pioneering solution took six years to develop and was done so in partnership with chemicals manufacturers and copper and cobalt mining customers in the DRC.

Finding safer, more efficient ways to extract valuable resources and enhance profitability continues to be a priority in the mining sector – which has been particularly constrained by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. This discovery will extend the life of copper and cobalt mines and assist profitability. Protea Mining Chemicals is working closely with other mines to replicate this success in other regions.

“Over the past few decades, many unsuccessful attempts have been made by mining houses, global chemical manufacturers, as well as solvent extraction equipment and process engineers to address this issue of contamination. Needless to say, this has been a very challenging journey and we are delighted by what we have been able to achieve,” added Michael Smith, Managing Director at Protea Mining Chemicals.

BME Electronic Detonator Blast Records

Protea Mining Chemicals unmatched achievement comes hot on the heels of BME’s record-setting accomplishment. The division recently initiated the largest, single electronic detonator blast in South Africa using 3,780 detonators at a manganese mine near Hotazel in the Northern Cape.

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Powered by more than 461 tonnes of high-quality emulsion from BME’s Losberg plant in Gauteng, the explosion moved 890,000 tonnes of overburden (soil, rocks, etc.). BME also supplied other necessary equipment for the explosion, including boosters and surface wire.

BME’s ground-breaking AXXIS™ electronic initiation system – which improves the safety, ease of use and accuracy of blasts – was a key contributor to this success. The latest iteration of the initiation system – AXXIS Titanium™ (designed to provide longer lead times, greater control and better data) – is currently undergoing final trials ahead of its market launch, which is planned for later this year.

“BME’s ongoing product development has positioned us well to consistently produce quality blasts that deliver on customer requirements. Our versatile and easy-to-use AXXIS™ system facilitates larger less frequent blasts, reducing the disruption caused by blast-related pit stoppages and improving mine productivity,” said Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME.

BME’s record-setting streak included initiating the biggest, single blast in the world. The division used 7,401 electronic detonators in a large copper mine in Africa, breaking its own record – which was previously held for firing 7,350 detonators in a single blast at a large opencast coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

“These are not only great achievements for Protea Mining Chemicals, BME and Omnia Group, but also unparalleled wins for the African continent. This world-first discovery and greatly advanced blasting technology are testament to the intellectual capital, innovation and solutions-focused thinking that enables Africans to effectively compete on a global stage. We are also very proud of how our customer-centric partnership philosophy and collaborative approaches continue to translate to compelling solutions,” said Seelan Gobalsamy, Omnia’s CEO.

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