Commercial explosives produced at Walvis Bay

Floris Steenkamp

Namibia has taken yet another step forward towards self-reliance with the commissioning recently of an Ammonium Nitrate Emulsion Plant at Walvis Bay. The plant produces commercial explosives from ammonium nitrate, also known as ammonium nitrate emulsion.

The mining- and construction industries are the biggest consumers of ammonium nitrate emulsion for blasting purposes. The plant in Namibia aims to serve the market with an average of 16 000 tons of ammonium nitrate emulsion.
An Australian multi-national corporation, Orica Limited, tea-med up with the Namibian-based dangerous goods storage service provider, Native Storage, to construct and commission the plant. The plant is situated on the premises of Native Storage, some 25km east of Walvis Bay, and Orica imports ammonium nitrate through the port of Walvis Bay as the base material for ammonium nitrate emulsion.

Orica Limited is Australian based, and has offices in more than 100 countries, and approximately 16 000 employees. The Africa head-quarters are in Rosebank, Johannesburg with a site office in Namibia’s Swakopmund.
An inauguration ceremony took place at the plant last Friday, with the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police, lt.-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, as the guest of honour on behalf of the Minister of Safety and Security, Dr Albert Kawana. Other guests included the Mayor of Walvis Bay Cllr Trevino Forbes, accompanied by four more mayors including the mayor of the City of Windhoek, Cllr Job Amupanda.
In the keynote address on behalf of Dr Kawana, General Ndeitunga hailed the plant as an important step forward for industrialisation and self-reliance on locally manufactured products. He urged Namibian companies to follow the example of Orica Limited and Native Storage to form ventures with international companies to manufacture and add benefit to raw materials locally.
“Let us take marble as an example. It is mined in Namibia, yet it is exported in whole form and value added in a foreign country. We stand at the port and salute or wave off our raw materials, with no local jobs or technical capacity created through local manufacturing”, the General explained.
General Ndeitunga also assured the Namibian public that the Namibia regulations were followed to the last letter for Orica and Native Storage to satisfy all legal and safety requirements before the plant could be constructed and com-missioned.

In his address, the Business Support Officer of Orica in Namibia, Mr Zak Venter, said the plant is a major achievement for Namibia. Consumers of commercial explosives no more have to rely on the importation and stockpiling of the product, whilst the product produced by Orica locally is efficient and more cost effective when com-pared toto the use of packaged explosives.
Time and money are saved and the bar is raised for safety.
Clients can optimise on working capital when purchasing for commercial explosives any more, often sitting in inventories for extended periods, there are shorter delivery periods and mines can operate cost efficiently if the need falls away to store large volumes of explosives or base materials onsite.
The mining industry, construction industry, earthmoving and other sectors require ammonium nitrate for blasting work. Many has ammonium nitrate emulsion plants onsite, but Orica’s readily availability of commercial explosives can change this scenario for the better.
“The possibility of security of supply means customers no longer need to import product with trucks at significant cost to stockpile onsite”, Venter.

In addition, any quantity can be delivered. “No client is too small or too big for us”, concluded Venter.
Ammonium nitrate emulsion requires ammonium nitrate first saturated with water and then suspended in oil. From a safety perspective, said Venter, ammonium nitrate emulsion is a non-flammable, viscous liquid.
It is safe to transport and store, and requires very specific preparations and conditions of pressure and temperature to become an explosive substance.

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