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Enaex Africa CEO Francisco Baudrand speaks to Creamer Media’s Simone Liedtke at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba. Video and editing: Nicholas Boyd.

Explosives and blasting specialist Enaex Africa is hopeful that it will continue to expand into Africa and help drive long-term growth and new investment opportunities in the continent’s mining industry, as it believes that “Enaex Africa was born to become leaders in explosives on the continent”.

In Southern Africa, Enaex has a lot of synergies with production plants, having started in South Africa and expanded into countries outside of South Africa with businesses in Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho. In addition, Enaex Africa has plans to move into the Copperbelt soon which is mainly in Zambia. All these expansions have allowed for local partnerships, job creation, training and upskilling, all while investing in new projects to expand the mining industry.

CEO Francisco Baudrand adds that the company’s goal is to partner with local entities, “where people have the intimate knowledge of the business, partners and people in the local mining sector”.

However, the company is not establishing legal entities in every country as it will rather be focusing on its operations, producing and developing blasting services in established mining countries with political stability.

“We are also currently exporting products to Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others. In the long term, we will also be targeting West Africa which will be our next region of growth,” says Baudrand .

He adds that for Enaex, the goal is about building a safer future on the African continent in mining, and the company intends to achieve this through the importation of teleoperated devices and robotics, which Baudrand says will also allow for upskilling in the local communities, from which the company hopes to draw the employees that operate them.

“In fact, at Enaex Africa, we value safety above all, and we put it first in everything that we do. We include this value when we expand our operations into different countries across the continent. This is because we want to keep our employees safe, but we also want to enhance their skills and train them correctly. Our goal is to do all of this while establishing healthy, local partnerships that continue to build and grow the economies in which we choose to expand our footprint.”

However, recent global economic conditions have made it somewhat challenging to advance the company’s strategy.

In the explosives industry, specifically, Baudrand explains that there was a lack of ammonia and therefore ammonium nitrate in the world, because of international conditions.

Because of this, the industry now has strong demand and Enaex is, fortunately, a company that has not seen negative effects as a result of the economic crisis.

“We still foresee there being a lack of product in the market so we believe there can be some challenging years ahead in our industry,” says Baudrand.

South Africa is a country where the supply chain is particularly challenging and Enaex Africa did struggle in October and November in 2022 with shortage of product.

“We work very close with our customers to try to minimise the impact and we have happily received the approval to build additional ammonium nitrate storage capacity in Secunda. This will allow us to increase our security of supply to our customers,” Baudrand states.

Further, in terms of environment, social and corporate governance (ESG) as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR), Enaex is committed to embracing global and local sustainable development initiatives and has placed a renewed focus on a safetyhealth and environment plan that reflects commitment to make sure its impact is – and will always be – a positive one.

In the ESG space, Enaex in Chile is taking the lead in the expansion into green ammonia production for explosives.

“The effects of green ammonia are enormous, as it ensures the protection of resources and the environment and is well-aligned with modern mining customers’ interests and focus. Green ammonia is very important for the future and the company. Reducing our carbon footprint is something we take very seriously,” Baudrand comments.

Enaex Africa believes strongly in CSR, and to this end, Baudrand says the company is always aware of the demands from, and the needs within, the communities in which the company and its customers operate.

Enaex Africa’s main objectives for having a presence at this year’s Mining Indaba are networking, where the company intends to enhance its brand and create awareness of new innovative projects that it is doing differently to the rest of the industry, and listening to key speakers.

“We also want to engage with current and potential customers, always understanding their needs and listening to what challenges they are facing in today’s global climate. In that way, it gives us future ideas on how we should bring solutions to these problems,” Baudrand concludes.