Waste oil pioneer BME develops its green partnerships

LA leader in how it incorporates waste oil into its emulsion explosives, Omnia Group company BME is extending the benefits of this growing sustainability initiative to mining customers and other approved partners.

With its innovative culture and decades of successful mining operations, BME has become the leading consumer of waste oil in the explosives industry. This harmful waste is used as a combustible agent in the company’s high-quality emulsions, ensuring that it is safely disposed of during the blasting process.

“Through our extensive collection network, we can ensure that waste oil from customers and other sources does not end up in valuable water resources or soil as a contaminant,” said Ramesh Dhoorgapersadh, BME General Manager for Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ). “It helps us achieve Omnia’s vision of protecting lives, sustaining livelihoods and creating a better world.”

BME consumes almost 25 million liters of waste oil a year in South Africa alone and plans to steadily increase its collection and treatment capacity in the coming years. It has been estimated that it only takes one liter of oil to contaminate one million liters of water, making the safe disposal of oil a strategic global imperative, especially for water-scarce countries. Dhoorgapersadh highlighted the alignment of BME’s waste oil initiative with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which focus on goals such as access to clean water, food security and the eradication of pollution.

“It is important to appreciate the ecosystem impact of oil on the environment,” he said. “Contamination not only poisons water, but can affect food security by compromising soil and agricultural health.”

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BME therefore sought to partner with mining and other stakeholders to promote the SDGs in pursuit of a sustainable future for the planet. He stressed, however, that the collection, testing, treatment and use of used oils is a complex and demanding process. It cannot be conducted reliably without a robust infrastructure and meticulous attention to quality at every stage of the operation.

Dirk Voogt, general manager of production and logistics at BME, explained that the company’s oil collection network has evolved over the years, aligning each phase with its ISO 9000 quality certification. It is also registered as a licensed collector and processor with the Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (ROSE) Foundation.

“Our extensive logistical arrangements include picking up waste oil from our mining customers, but also from our network of 11 approved suppliers – or consolidation points,” Voogt said. “The oil is processed and tested in our dedicated factory in Delmas, from where it can be transported to our emulsion production.”

The expansion of BME’s business and its advanced emulsion technology which can incorporate consistently higher proportions of waste oils compared to conventional fuel agents are driving its rising consumption levels. He notes that his waste oil capacity is not limited to South Africa but has been applied for mining customers as far away as West Africa and Indonesia.

“We can regularly collect all the used engine oil from a mine’s vehicles, providing a very convenient and safe and environmentally friendly service for the customer,” he said. “Responsible disposal of oil in our emulsion adds another dimension to our partnership with our mining customers – supporting their sustainability efforts while reducing their logistical burden and environmental risk.”

The environmental, social and governance (ESG) benefits go deeper than that, said Sachin Govender, waste oil manager at BME. He explained that small businesses are among the most important contributors to the success of the company’s waste oil collection network. The initiative therefore creates long-term business opportunities in the local economy, stimulating entrepreneurial activity and generating employment.

“Our infrastructure relies on small and micro-enterprises to collect oil in a compliant manner in a range of sectors outside of mining, such as vehicle maintenance shops,” Govender said. “This has led to a network of assembly points which already provides employment for over 120 people in South Africa.”

BME QR code
Follow this QR code to visit BME’s used oil website

He noted that BME is extending this initiative to neighboring countries where it can use small businesses – even informal ones – to collect used oil, thereby creating demand in the local economy. The company’s steady and growing demand for used oils provides a solid platform for these smaller companies to develop their expertise and standards, so that they can meet this demand in the future.

Voogt pointed out that the waste oil methodology employed in Indonesia is applied at a remote mine site, where BME manufactures an emulsion for its client. Despite the remoteness, the manufacturing process can achieve loading levels – of waste oil versus virgin fuels – similar to those of South African operations.

“We are also integrating this technology into our other operations around the world,” he said. “Wherever there are sufficient sources of waste oil, we can put in place the equipment and processes needed to support the principles of a more circular economy. »