11 February 2015
South African explosives and specialty chemicals company AECI announced on Monday that it had signed a five-year agreement with Thiess, the world’s largest mining contractor, signalling AECI’s entry in to Australia.
In terms of the agreement, AEL Mining Services (AEL), a wholly owned subsidiary of AECI, will provide explosives, initiating systems and technical services to Thiess in Australia.
Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of metallurgical and thermal coal and ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The explosives industry is nearly six times the size of South Africa’s.
Thiess said it approached AEL to help it add value in a declining commodity cycle. The companies have a long-standing working relationship in Indonesia.
Theiss executive general manager Michael Wright said on Monday that Theiss had noted AECI’s commitment to developing research and development programmes that would help cut costs for miners.
“Given the competitive and complex state of mining, the partnership has the potential to be a real game-changer in the Australian mining industry,” Wright said.
AECI said it was also seeking to expand further into Africa, Brazil, Chile and Indonesia.
It opened an AECI Australia office last year in Brisbane and had developed a factory in Bajool near Rockhampton in Queensland, run by MD Nigel Convey.
The site included a modular ammonium nitrate emulsion manufacturing facility imported from South Africa, as well as storage space. The design of the facility gave AEL flexibility to “grow global capacity easily in future” and all the necessary regulatory approvals were in place, AECI said.