• ABOUT AEL

    ABOUT AEL

AEL was established in 1896 and has become one of the world's leading suppliers of explosives and initiating systems.

Comprises of 16 businesses complimented by production facilities and offices throughout Southern Africa, Africa, and select international regions in South East Asia, South America and Europe. AEL has 58 plants and 34 sites in more than 20 countries.

OUR EXCO

OUR EXCO

OUR BIGGER VALUES

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BOLD

Pushing our performance above and beyond.

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INNOVATIVE

Actively challenging ourselves to reinvent who we are, what we do and how we do it.

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GOING GREEN

Driving solutions for a sustainable future.

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ENGAGED

Being committed to a culture of accountability, honesty and inclusivity.

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RESPONSIBILITY

Acting in a manner that is mindful of all stakeholders’ interests.

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BOLD →

BOLD

Pushing our performance above and beyond.

values-i-icon.png

I-letter.png

INNOVATE →

INNOVATIVE

Actively challenging ourselves to reinvent who we are, what we do and how we do it.

values-g-icon.png

g-letter.png

g-letter.png

GOING GREEN →

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e-letter.png

ENGAGED →

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RESPONSIBILITY →

RESPONSIBILITY

Acting in a manner that is mindful of all stakeholders’ interests.

OUR HISTORY

  • 1886
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    Gold Discovered

    George Harrison discovered gold on the Witwatersrand reef and with that the largest market for dynamite exploded into existence.

  • 1895
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    First Explosives Factory

    Establishment of the ‘Zuid Afrikaansche Fabrieken voor Ontplofbare Stoffen Beperk' at Modderfontein by President Paul Kruger.

  • 1896
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    Factory Opens

    On 25th April 1896 President Paul Kruger officially opened the factory on one of his rare visits to the Rand.

  • 1919
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    Two factories unite

    After World War I, the Modderfontein factory and Kynoch's Umbogintwini factory amalgamated. Explosives production was centred at Modderfontein and the Umbogintwini factory went over to making fertilisers.

  • 1924
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    African Explosives & Industries Limited formed

    The formation of African Explosives and Industries Limited in 1924 breathed new life into Modderfontein factory with new developments commencing on a scale that merited the title of “the biggest commercial explosives factory in the world”.

  • 1931
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    Sir Ernest Oppenheimer is appointed chairman

    Sir Ernest Oppenheimer is appointed chairman of African Explosives and Industries Limited.

  • 1932
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    Ammonia synthesis plant

    The history of AECI and of Modderfontein factory is synonymous with the history of industry in South Africa. As a generator of wealth with its products and as a creator of supporting industries, its value was incalculable.

  • 1933
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    Ammon gelignite takes off

    Three thousand cases of ammon gelignite, the new ammonium nitrate explosive, were put to the test. Within five years, ammon gelignites would completely replace straight gelignites.

  • 1944
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    Name change to African Explosives & Chemical Industries

    After World War II, research and development facilities were consolidated and expanded at Pinelands in Modderfontein, whilst international liaison with ICI Explosives Research and Development centres intensified.

  • 1954
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    2nd Ammonia Plant

    Against a background of burgeoning activity in mining and quarrying, African Explosives & Chemical Industries Limited solidified its reputation as a pioneer of explosives and explosives accessories.

  • 1957
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    Igniter cord introduced

    The company introduced the capability for sequential delay timing for capped fuse systems in narrow reef mines by introducing igniter cord, which went into production at Modderfontein in 1957 and replaced 'chesa sticks'.

  • 1959
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    Freflo and Dynagel developed

    The ever-increasing range of mining activities in South Africa facilitated some pioneering work on explosives and explosives accessories for the gold, diamond, platinum, iron ore, coal, copper, asbestos and quarrying industries.

  • 1961
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    Black powder & BGP safety fuse

    The production of black powder and BGP safety fuse commenced at Modderfontein. At its peak, the plant produced 300 million metres of safety fuse per year.

  • 1963
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    First pentolite boosters

    Somerset West factory produces the first pentolite boosters.

  • 1966
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    ANFO introduced

    The 1960s saw the introduction of porous prill ammonium nitrate that facilitated the production of ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO), a new blasting agent.

  • 1967
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    No 3 Ammonia Plant commissioned

    A factory was built at Modderfontein for the production of PETN and detonating cord.

  • 1968
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    Slurry explosives developed

    The development of a range of slurry explosives and on-site mixing techniques ushered in a new era in explosives technology.

  • 1972
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    AE&CI abbreviation

    The company name was abbreviated to AE&CI Limited in order to facilitate financial investment from overseas.

  • 1974
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    No 4 Ammonia Plant completed

    In this year, a massive new nitrogen complex known as No 4 Ammonia Plant was built.

  • 1976
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    Name change to AECI Limited

    The company name was changed to AECI Limited, to follow modern trends.

  • 1978
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    First emulsion patent

    AECI Limited filed its first emulsion explosives patent.

  • 1982
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    Mankwe opens

    The first new commercial explosives factory since 1908 was opened at Mankwe, near Rustenburg, with production of 100 million capped fuses per annum and a capacity of 80 000 tonnes of Anfex® per annum.

  • 1983
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    Safety fuse produced at Mankwe

    A new plant at Mankwe factory came on stream for the manufacture of safety fuse.

  • 1985
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    Wet spun safety fuse innovation

    Flowing from research that had commenced in 1980, AECI developed and in 1985 industrialised, a process for manufacturing safety fuse by a wet process.

  • 1987
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    Klerksdorp operations opens

    The Klerksdorp factory and distribution centre began operations.

  • 1989
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    Emulsion chemical gassing sensitisation innovation

    AECI introduced emulsion chemical gassing sensitisation technology to the South African explosives industry.

  • 1994
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    Nitroglycerin plant closes

    AECI was in the process of phasing out nitroglycerin production as it was a very unstable substance and had caused a number of accidents worldwide, through the years.

  • 1995
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    Somerset West explosives factory

    Closure of Somerset West explosives factory in line with the centralisation policy.

  • 1998
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    AECI total ownership

    In January 1998, AECI exercised its pre-emptive option to repurchase ICI's 51% share in AECI Explosives Limited thereby regaining 100% ownership.

  • 1999
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    Name Change

    The company name changed from AECI Explosives Limited to African Explosives Limited (AEL).

  • 2001
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    Electronic detonators

    AEL achieved the first 1 500 electronic detonator single blast (at Damang Gold Mine in Ghana) using the AEL-developed programmable Smartdet® system.

  • 2003
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    DetNet joint venture

    AECI and Dyno Nobel (Norway) entered into a joint venture with DetNet – 'Changing the Way the World Mines' with electronic detonators.

  • 2004
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    AEL's head office at The Platform

    AEL head office moved to The Platform in Longmeadow Business Estate, a new head office building adjacent to Modderfontein.

  • 2006
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    ISAP commences

    AEL embarked on the Initiating Systems Automation Project (ISAP) in 2006 and has designed, built and commissioned a high speed automated assembly line to deliver high volumes of shock tube product within a significantly reduced cycle time relative to existing manual processes.

  • 2007
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    AEL invests in Indonesia

    2007 saw AEL's first international product assembly initiative and first capital investment outside Africa in Indonesia.

  • 2008
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    World first with spray drying innovation

    In February 2008 AEL's R&D team pioneered and patented the world's first commercial pyrotechnic spray drying plant, which will eventually provide all the delay powders that the company needs for its new automated assembly plant.

  • 2009
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    AEL establishes presence in North Africa

    AEL successfully established a presence in North Africa and installed its emulsion plant at Sukari Gold Project in Egypt and commenced blasting operations at the mine.

  • 2010
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    New brand strategy and corporate identity

    AEL launches its new logo, brand strategy and corporate identity at Indaba in February. At the same time, AEL launches its new global website.

  • 2011/2012
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    Ground-breaking innovations

    PCU 010 pump, Shock Tube Uni-Delay LP Vivid, Rhino Shock Tube Connector and Powercord 8 Premium.

  • 2013/ 2014
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    More trail-blazing innovations

    Blast Initiation Timer (BIT), GeoShot (Electronic Delay Detonator), CE4 Tagger and Hot Hole Monitor, Vertical Drop System.

  • 2015
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    Latest innovations

    InstaStem non-detonating rock-breaking cartridge.

  • 2016
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    Launch of IntelliShot™

    A superior advanced blasting system ensuring the best blast, on time, every time.

  • 2018
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    AEL field trials latest innovation

    Digidet: an electronic shock tube detonator affording customer ease of deployment.

  • 2019
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    Re-brand in line with blasting intelligence

    Taking the mining industry into the era of digitalisation and smart mining.

  “Our promise is about intelligent blasting. It is when we engage with our customers to really understand their needs and develop a solution central to those needs. Once we together agree on the solution it’s a very good example of creating good chemistry and great energy.” - Edwin Ludick

UNCONVENTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

AEL has partnered with advanced digitization agencies and leading educational institutions to ensure improved efficiencies and quality outcomes for our customers in the mining industry.

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STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

Our joint venture partner, DetNet, offers innovative and advanced electronic initiation systems, blast design software and electronic detonators to mining operations from all over the world.


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