In 2017, Sasol, an integrated energy and chemical company based in Sandton, South Africa undertook a detailed asset review to ensure all assets in the company’s global portfolio delivered against stringent financial metrics and were aligned with the company’s growth strategy. In line with this review, Sasol’s explosives business was identified as having substantial growth potential that could be unlocked through collaboration opportunities, including the possibility of partnering with a world-class explosives brand.
In June 2019, after a robust evaluation process, Enaex, a leading company with more than 100 years of history in the explosives business based in Chile, was selected as Sasol’s preferred strategic partner to create a world-class explosives business on the African continent.
That company was established and started trading under the name of Enaex Africa in July 2020. Enaex is the majority shareholder at 51 percent and is responsible for the management and operational control of the entity. Enaex is the third largest explosives company in the world.
Enaex Africa produces and distributes a wide range of explosives and value-added solutions, providing all the products and services required to execute the entire blasting process, including several types of bulk emulsions, cartridge emulsions, boosters and conventional and electronic detonators, among others. These products are used in blasting for opencast and underground mining operations, quarries and civil construction.
Speaking in a one-on-one interview with The Business Weekly & Review in Gaborone this week, the CEO of Enaex Africa, Francisco Baudrand, says the company has a proud heritage as a world-class explosives leader and is the result of a joint venture between Enaex (51 percent), Sasol (23 percent) and Afris (26 percent) in South Africa.
Baudrand says the formation of Enaex Africa was aimed at the bigger objective of exploiting opportunities in Africa. Its biggest operations are in South Africa, the continent’s industrial superpower. It also has operations in Namibia and Lesotho and exports to other southern African countries.
In the interview, Baudrand reveals that Enaex Africa saw a further growth opportunity in Botswana, and partnering with a local firm with vast experience in mining was key on that strategy. Botswana is a mining-led economy, and has several mining operations which can benefit from Enaex Africa services, experience and value-added solutions.
The mining sector in Botswana accounts for about 35 percent of the domestic output, with diamonds contributing over 80 percent of the total mining share in GDP. The country produces the world’s largest gem diamonds, with an output that represents about 40 percent of the total world output. Botswana is also a major producer of copper, coal and other base metals. As a result, Botswana has several mining operations which Baudrand believes are an opportunity for Enaex Africa to offer its services.
In order to tap into this opportunity, Baudrand says Enaex Africa signed an agreement with Bull Shot (Pty) Ltd, a 100 percent Botswana owned company, to establish a company called Enaex Botswana (Pty) Ltd on a 50–50 basis. Enaex Botswana was fully established in September this year.
Already, says Baudrand, Enaex Botswana has signed an agreement with a mining contractor – Marung Development Services – to supply explosives in two mines. The first one is Karowe Diamond Mine, a Boteti-based mine famous for production of rare large gemstones. Karowe Diamond Mine is fully owned by Canadian diamond mining firm, Lucara Diamonds. Secondly, Mowana Copper Mine. The mine was previously owned by an Australian company named Discovery Metals Limited but has since been taken over by Leboam Holdings (Pty) Ltd, which is also in the process of being acquired by a company called Max Power Limited through its subsifiary MP Mining. Mowana Mine is situated at Dukwi, in the North Eastern part of Botswana.
“We are also looking to tender for other mines to offer our explosives solutions,” Baudrand says. Enaex Botswana has a competitive edge in that it enjoys the backing of the Enaex Group at international level, but is strongly committed to contribute in the Botswana economy through their partnership with a local firm. Enaex Botswana is the only explosives and blasting company in the country with 50 percent citizen ownership. Beside their production capabilities in South Africa, Enaex also owns the world’s biggest Ammonium Nitrate supply complex in Chile which can produce up to 800 000 tons. This means that it is superior in terms of security of supply of explosives raw material.
According to Baudrand the innovation focused approach of Enaex, will also bring advantages and new heavy anfo solutions to the Botswana industry, like a high-energy product that will improve fragmentation, a low-density solution to decrease energy and vibration on pit instability conditions and a reactive ground resistant product. Additionally, he adds that Enaex is the first explosive company in the world that is executing the whole blasting process using teleoperated equipment – in a Anglo American site in Chile. “to humanize mining is our purpose and life is our more important value. Teleoperation will allow us to minimize exposure of our people to the risks on the blasting environment”. Enaex Africa, is in the process of reviewing the local requirements and regulations to bring this equipment to Africa.
Enaex is a leader in terms of rock fragmentation services for both open pit and underground mines. In open pit mines, Enaex Botswana offers services that includes explosives loading, blast initiation, blast hole priming, programming, stemming and plugging services, as well as full blasting technical evaluations explosives magazine management, among others.
Services offered in underground mining includes blasting services, magazine management, technical evaluations as well as product supply. Baudrand states that all these services will be availed in the Botswana market and that being superior in their offering will give Enaex Botswana a competitive edge. In Africa, Enaex provides about 400 000 tonnes of explosives and Baudrand sees this number increasing by 2022.