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AEL Central Africa, part of the international AEL Mining Services group, recently commissioned a new packaged explosives (PEX) plant at its main operational hub in Mufulira in the Zambia Copperbelt to meet the growing demands in the region and ensure reliability of supply.
With the new state-of-the-art PEX plant coming online, AEL Central Africa has the capacity to manufacture all product requirements in country from its ISO 14001 facilities in Zambia, including surface and underground bulk emulsions, Anfex, the full range of packaged explosives, and the assembly of shock tube initiating systems and electric detonators.
Thinus Bierman, managing director of AEL Central Africa comments, "Our capacity to manufacture all our products in the region gives us a competitive edge and results in reliable stock, reduced supply risks, increased capacity and flexibility to meet the needs of our mining and quarrying customers in Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi.
"Previously, our Central Africa operations imported packaged explosives from AEL's head office, situated in Johannesburg, South Africa, which made us dependent on road transportation, which presented a range of logistical challenges and associated costs."
With the assistance of the Mines Safety Department (MSD) of Zambia, AEL successfully commissioned the PEX plant to international quality and safety standards to produce a range of Magnum Buster products ranging from 25mm to 100mm in size.
"In a short turnaround time", adds Bierman, "we were able to increase our production capacity to meet our market requirements, and also build a safety buffer stock, which is housed in our large magazine on site. We also have the capacity to increase our product range to suit customer requirements."
According to Bierman, AEL's manufacturing hub in Zambia has the capacity to ramp up to meet the demands of rapid mining developments taking place in the DRC.
"We are supplying the majority of international mining operations in the Central Africa region, and are currently investing substantially in the DRC with offices and an AEL team in Lubumbashi and a bulk emulsion plant and a number of strategically placed storage and distribution sites in the Katanga province", says Bierman.
AEL Central Africa provides a range of value-added services to mining customers in the region, which includes the delivery of explosives and initiating systems; the operation of Underground Bulk Explosives (UBS) mobile pumping units; and Down-the-Hole services to surface mines operating Mobile Manufacturing Units (MMUs). All of these services are supported by a customer services team of qualified mining engineers and blasting experts that consult with the mines to produce optimal blasting results and increased productivity.