Through South Africa’s strict COVID -19 lockdown, essential service provider BME has supported coal mines’ blasting operations so that Eskom power stations can keep the country’s lights on.

This ongoing support for the mining sector is now broadening into other commodities as more mines now ramp up partial production following recent amendments to the lockdown regulations.

“Despite the many disruptions caused by the virus, it is crucial for the economy and livelihoods that mining returns as quickly as possible to a level of normality,” said Ralf Hennecke, BME’s general manager for technology and marketing.

Hennecke noted that a return to blasting in many underground mines was also necessary to prevent build-ups of rock pressure that could make workings unsafe. He emphasised that BME had made the necessary organisational adaptations to serve all its mining customers as they re-open operations.

“While complying closely with the COVID-19 regulations, we have made sure that vital blasting services to customers continue,” he said. “We work closely with customers and suppliers to ensure safety protocols such as social distancing, hygiene and screening are applied wherever we work.”

A range of compliance requirements govern essential service providers, including permissions and documentation to travel. BME put these in place early in the lockdown period to ensure that its work – and the role of its own suppliers and third-party transporters – could continue efficiently.

BME’s own production facilities have been able to continue operating safely with a skeleton staff, thanks mainly to the deployment of small teams across various facilities and the highly automated production of certain lines.

“Our automated facilities also ensure that quality is prioritised and maintained even under these lockdown conditions,” he said.

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