With its head office in Johannesburg, South Africa, AEL Mining Services is one of the world’s leading suppliers of explosives and initiating systems. Today, with 17 companies making up AEL Mining Services, the group offers production facilities and offices in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, DRC, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Indonesia.
A member of the JSE-listed AECI group, AEL is a developer, producer and supplier of commercial explosives, initiating systems and blasting services for mining, quarrying and construction markets in the regions it serves.
An international leader and innovator in commercial explosives and blasting solutions, the company headquarters are situated in what is known historically as the birth place of explosives in a South African context – Modderfontein, Johannesburg.
AEL's origins date back to 1896. The Modderfontein factory was initially commissioned in 1893 by the Nobel Trust to serve the Transvaal government. Used predominantly as an ammunitions factory during the Anglo Boer War, the factory took on a different shape in the 1950s expanding into manufacturing explosives products. The company began claiming its place as a leading innovator with the introduction of shock tube in the 1980s and is currently building the first fully automated Initiating Systems assembly in the world.
Today, the company and its staff share a passion for strengthening AEL’s position internationally while building awareness of the brand on a global scale.
AEL’s head office is a progressive, open and inviting place to work. With an ongoing focus on delivering a reliable product set backed by professional service, the company boasts a true orientation towards its family of staffers and the customers they all work tirelessly to please.
Referred to affectionately as ‘the Platform’ by staff and customers alike, AEL headquarters play home to the life blood of the company – with all administrative, research and development, environmental, operational, logistical and managerial facilities operating and servicing more disparate regional offices from this venue.
The business services division at AEL controls the ordering, shipping and distribution processes for the Modderfontein site. This includes inbound and outbound logistics, marketing and communications, product management and equipment services and product development (products to market) and strategic projects.
Logistically, AEL manages rail, road and shipping internally and while exports are shipped via rail to ship, product is moved predominantly via road, some 12 000 000 000 kilometres annually, throughout Southern Africa and Africa.
Financial, IT and Legal
AEL houses a strong financial contingent of creditors and debtors with each business sector employing its own dedicated accountant. With a strong emphasis on corporate governance and company law, AEL prohibits anti-competitive behaviour. The legal division handles all contracts and the entire company has ongoing access to its mother company’s in-house legal team.
Further, remaining current on the IT front, the company was one of the first to deploy the world class SAP R3 system to manage systems across the board and its Intranet is currently being upgraded to SharePoint.
The strategic projects division implements strategic growth projects across the company. This team is focussed solely on the implementation and management of these projects.
Research and Development
AEL is known for its strong and ongoing focus on research and development and has changed the mining and explosives landscape with the introduction of numerous innovative technologies. These technologies are conceptualised and designed both by internal staffers and in conjunction with academia from all over the world.
AEL prides itself in its skilled contingent of internal resources who collectively offer over 500 years experience in designing solutions for the mining and explosives markets.
Safety and Health
As its drive is one that focuses on mine safety for its customers, it comes as no surprise that the safety and health of its staff is also of key import to AEL as a company.
Over the years, the implications associated with safety within AEL walls has dictated that all structures report directly to the managing director. With focussed mechanisms in place that direct staffers’ attention to behaving in a safe manner and with strict measures that safety levels are weighed against in place, employees are collectively penalised if safety statistics are not achieved and/or maintained. The approach works as AEL ended 2009 with a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) of 0.58.
Health is another key focal point for AEL and the company has created facilities to help with all aspects of its employee health – be it physical, emotional or mental. AEL has several initiatives, one of which is on-site counselling to staffers who require assistance and AEL has contracted the services of a dedicated general practitioner who assists in assessing and providing necessary treatments to address staff ailments, as well as any injuries on duty.
The environment division reports directly to the managing director and has assisted AEL and its regional offices in achieving and maintaining an ISO 14001 status on an ongoing basis. As AEL and most of its branches are nestled in the heart of residential areas, good neighbourship is highly important to AEL’s environment team. This team interacts regularly with AEL’s CAER committee to ensure that it is effectively addressing issues raised in the communities in which AEL operates.
It is the environmental team that promotes and ensures that AEL’s various regional hubs engage continuously within their local communities building good relationships with the people around them.
With over 3 000 staffers worldwide to look out for, AEL’s human resources department is tasked with finding, employing and developing leadership in innovation within the mining and explosives sector. They accomplish this by ensuring that the company is supported by a diverse, professional and loyal workforce who strives to learn and grow alongside AEL.
Along with instilling a sense of personal pride among members of staff by enabling them to further their education and climb the ranks naturally by proving themselves on a continuous basis, the AEL HR team is also driven to ensure a sense of professional pride among the people who work here. This is accomplished with the availability of internal bursaries and study opportunities where staffers can learn on the job and through the introduction of a hiring policy that investigates the viability of internal personnel first before positions are advertised externally.
Furthering its efforts in achieving a harmonious work environment, AEL employs a responsible executive council (Exco) member to monitor every division.
AEL manufactures product from three sites within the Modderfontein hub, namely the Detonator Campus, the Fuse/ISAP Campus and the Nitrate Campus.
The Detonator Campus – this campus houses the factories that manufacture electric detonators, detonating relays, Surestarts, fuseheads, plain detonators, delay elemented detonators, pyrotechnics and shock tube assemblies.
The Fuse/ISAP Campus – This is where AEL’s shock tube is extruded and manufactured, and where detonators and detonating cords as well as igniter cords and boosters are manufactured. It is also the home of AEL automated initiating systems factory.
The Nitrates Campus – as the name suggests, this is where Ammonium Nitrate solutions, Ammonium Nitrate Porous Prill, and emulsions are created.