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Manufacture of Explosives and Pyrotechnics
The explosives market is largely dependent on the mining industry, which continues to struggle due to increasing costs, strike action, regulatory and operational challenges, and unstable electricity supply. The mining sector returned to profitability in 2019 due to higher commodity prices and a weaker rand. But declining production, high operation costs, and load-shedding are threatening the future of mines and mining industry output. The South African market for explosives is small and extremely competitive, and competition has forced down prices, resulting in lower margins. To increase their competitive edge, companies offer value-added services such as consulting and training for blasters.
Future opportunities for explosives suppliers lie in technology and services as mining moves from a deep level, labour intensive, conventional mining environment to a mechanised shallower, technologically-advanced industry. Demand for more cost-effective solutions remains high and the major explosive companies continue to focus on product enhancements that will lead to mine production improvements and blast optimisation. Innovation by some companies has led to international interest in underground blasting technology while other companies have been exploring opportunities outside South Africa. The major drivers for product development and innovation are safety and efficiency such as remote control systems at sites and autonomous vehicles.
This report focuses on the manufacture of explosives and pyrotechnics and includes information on the state of the sector and the factors that influence it. There are comprehensive profiles of 11 companies in the sector. These include Omnia, whose BME division’s mobile mechanised emulsion pumps technology for underground blasting applications is enabling it to expand to international markets. Profiles also include DetNet, an electronic blast initiation specialist that installed a smart blasting system at the Wits Mining Institute.