Mining costs

Vital role in Africa for suppliers

Francois Hay - Managing Director at BME.jpg

Competition among mine suppliers operating in Africa is on the rise, a trend reflected by the high number of supply companies attending and exhibiting at the 2014 Mining Indaba in Cape Town, according to BME managing director Francois Hay.

At the explosives firm’s exhibition booth in the Cape Town Convention Centre, Hay said that BME has always found the event a valuable forum for networking and information gathering – and 2014 is no different.

“It is good news for the continent to see so many suppliers targeting Africa,” said Hay. “Even those with currently limited exposure outside SA can see that their future markets lie to the north; and this means more competition, which brings down mining costs and improves service levels.”

Having operated in various African countries for over two decades, BME has steadily expanded its footprint as a leading supplier of explosives and detonation technology.

“While suppliers like BME invest less capital than the mines themselves, we all contribute to stimulating the local economy in whichever African country we operate,” said Hay, “We also create jobs and promote skills development among local people so that the area becomes less reliant on expatriate skills. It takes time and it is hard work, but that’s what we all try to do – and we hope this will gradually change some of the negative sentiment around mining.”

Most companies who are active in Africa will have their ears close to the ground and are generally familiar with the opportunities as they arise; so why is the Mining Indaba still important?

“Coming to an event like the Indaba, we are able to confirm much of what we know, and get more detailed information – like project timelines and roll-out plans which help us to gear up to new opportunities,” he said.

“It also really helps to hear potential clients speak about their projects in the public domain, where they are required to give definite commitments – to the investment market, for instance – about what they plan to do and when they plan to do it. This kind of input is generally quite reliable and suppliers can use that in a practical way.”

He highlighted the importance of having access to high-level people in a range of companies – from mining giants to technical and financial consultants – who have devoted time to be part of this global networking event.

“Building relationships is really about understanding what our customers need, so any time that we spend with existing or future customers is valuable from that point of view,” said Hay. “Suppliers all need to add value by helping miners to mine smarter so they reduce their cost of mining. You can’t really do that until you understand customers’ operations, and this takes plenty of face-to-face engagement.”

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This edition

Issue 42