AECI restructuring and growing its key mining explosives markets

AECI says it aims to double the profitability of the mining and chemicals business by 2026. File

AECI says it aims to double the profitability of the mining and chemicals business by 2026. File

Published Feb 7, 2024


AECI, which this year celebrates 100 years of being listed, is restructuring and also diversifying overseas in its core chemicals and mining explosives markets, recently appointed CEO Holger Riemensperger said yesterday.

Interviewed on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba, he said the group is a global leader in the chemicals and mining industries, with its influence extending across Africa, Europe, south-east Asia, North America, South America, and Australia, and the aim is to continue to gain market share in these regions, as well as open up for business in other areas.

In many regions, the group’s mining explosives sales growth was outstripping that of the mining sector as a whole, he said.

He said they were recognised by their competitors as a pioneer of change in the mining explosives field in particular, having being active in this market for 128 years, and for instance, was for instance, currently a global leader in digital detonator systems.

He cited as example a contract win on a mine on an island of Papua New Guinea, where the mine was situated within an active volcano. Because of the danger of blasting, only three companies vied for the sales contract and AECI had won it on the basis that its systems could extend the life of the mine.

He said part of AECI's longevity was the consistent production of safe, reliable, and quality products, coupled with deep knowledge.

With an eye on mining as the primary growth focus, AECI planned to restructure its chemicals business to provide operational and financial support, driving growth in the mining sector. It will be a multi-year journey, said Riemensperger.

He said that when they started working on a new strategy last year, 14 of the group’s 16 businesses were deemed “sub-scale.”

The aim of the strategy change was to double the profitability of the mining and chemicals business by 2026 and become a global top three integrated mining explosives and chemicals solutions provider by 2030. The group had already largely reduced its debt, he said.

In November it was announced that, as part of the new strategy, businesses that were deemed non-core had included Much Asphalt, Animal Health, Schrim, Sans Fibers and Beverage, which would all be exited over time.

Riemensperger said executive management had already been adjusted - all of the previous senior executives, bar one, had left and had been replaced by external executives and by promoting other senior management within the group.

AECI employs more than 7 000 people across 100 sites, with a presence in 22 countries on six continents.

“What sets us apart from our competitors is not only our skills but also our strong will to keep innovating and optimising solutions, working hand-in-hand with our customers to deliver real value to the industry as a whole,” he said.

Morne Stiglingh, Global Support Services executive at AECI Mining, said AECI was exhibiting a complete range of explosives technologies at the conference, featuring for instance, sustainable explosives to industry-leading initiating systems and smart delivery systems.

“Positive disruption in mining technology is at the heart of our business,” said Stiglingh.

Prior to his appointment at AECI on May 1, 2023, Riemensperger held many executive and senior management positions in leading companies across Germany, the US, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Malaysia and has extensive expertise in the mining, chemicals, agricultural and manufacturing sectors.