B&E International : Dedicated to Integrated Solutions

Joshua MannJack Salter
Joshua Mann - Regional Director Jack Salter - Head of Editorial

Offering integrated crushing, mining, and mineral processing solutions, B&E International is the partner of choice for the mining and construction industries in South Africa. Chris Weideman, Managing Director, discusses the company’s premium services.

DEDICATED TO INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS

Being exposed to construction and mining, we get around and have a good feel for the pulse of both sectors.” 

In South Africa (SA), the former has been under severe pressure for the past few years due to several factors, namely government policies inconducive to growth and capital formation, corruption and crime, and a lack of investment from foreign and domestic sources. 

The view of SA as an unfavourable investment destination has been exacerbated by the severe downswing in construction activity over the past five to seven years, which has seen the country lose a large number of skilled workers. 

“There is a dire need for investment in our existing infrastructure, which is under severe pressure and ageing fast,” emphasises Chris Weideman, Managing Director of B&E International (B&E). 

“Quite a few large projects are out to tender, but after the recent election at the end of May, we are not sure if this is just government electioneering or whether they are truly intent on investing in infrastructure.” 

Mining in SA has been negatively impacted by this lack of investment, as the country’s port capacity is insufficient, the railways are not fully functional, and there is a critical energy shortage. 

There is likewise virtually no investment in exploration, according to Weideman, who cites regulation, political factors, and social engineering as responsible for hampering the sector’s growth. 

With the above driving off many competitors, opportunities abound for the likes of B&E.

INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS

Founded in 1972 as a drilling and blasting entity, B&E today offers integrated crushing, mining, mineral processing, and engineering solutions. 

The company was acquired by Raubex Group in 2008, giving B&E further access to advanced mining and construction expertise and services, as well as capital. 

“B&E is a diverse entity that offers a wide range of services and can address specific problems and challenges in the field. Amongst other things, we specialise in crushing and screening on a contract basis for infrastructure-related projects,” outlines Weideman, who remarkably has now worked at the company for 31 years. 

Paramount to sustainability and profitability, B&E offers crushing and screening services to commercial chrome, gold, manganese, iron ore, copper, platinum group metal (PGM), and coal mining ventures throughout sub-Saharan Africa. 

“We are particularly well-invested in the coal industry and have a rather large capacity for crushing and screening capabilities in this field, as well as the washing and sweetening of coal. Here, we also offer purpose-built coal washing solutions,” he adds. 

“We have a very large mobile contract crushing and screening plant fleet and probably boast the greatest capacity in Southern Africa.” 

Mineral processing and engineering services are also offered by the company to set up greenfield mining operations from scratch or rehabilitate existing projects. 

On the mineral processing front, B&E has ventured into the chrome recovery business, which it intends to continue growing as part of its offering. 

Meanwhile, the company’s Build, Operate, Own, Transfer (BOOT) concept allows clients to own an entire greenfield mineral processing plant that is designed, manufactured, installed, operated, and even financed on their behalf by B&E. 

“The BOOT concept is unique in our market as we may finance certain ventures which meet our criteria,” Weideman shares.  

More than ever, B&E is making headway in establishing long-term relationships through its BOOT concept, as it appeals to many of the company’s risk-averse mining clients and is a significant departure from typical models that form a significant part of the company’s strategy. 

“The risk is shared with this model as the plant we supply to the client is operated by us, so we address and solve any defects or issues. In this way, we share the pain, if there is any,” he explains. 

Maintenance and repair services, such as excavator and front-end loader bucket rebuilds, are additionally offered not only for B&E’s in-house operations, but also to third parties. 

“Machine rebuilds have become sought after in SA due to the rising cost of capital equipment,” notes Weideman. 

Last but not least, the company provides comprehensive drilling and blasting solutions for the mining, quarrying, and construction industries.

REGIONAL PRESENCE

In terms of its geographical footprint, B&E has a long history in Southern Africa and has no qualms about working in most African countries. 

The company is looking to grow in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), where, along with SA, it is currently present in the SADC nations of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Namibia. 

In the latter, B&E is currently working for Namdeb in the diamond mining town of Oranjemund, where it performs beach accretion and overburden stripping while also constructing and maintaining the seawalls. 

The Namdeb contract accounts for most of the ZAR500 million spent on capital expenditure (CapEx) this year by B&E, along with upgrading and expanding its drilling and blasting capabilities. The organisation is also pursuing other opportunities in the area, including the Tschudi Copper Mine. 

In Mozambique, meanwhile, B&E hopes to start up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, where it has already supplied 200,000 tonnes (t) of aggregates and sea defence materials out of the two million required. 

Elsewhere, the business is looking at ventures in Zimbabwe and is poised to enter Australia in 2025, where its three sister companies – West Force and Raubex Australia, who are already well-established in the country, and Road Mac Australia – are present. 

There are, however, projects that the company will walk away from due to certain inherent risks. Specifically, the risk that B&E is most acutely aware of is whether it will be able to deliver on its promises. 

“Unfortunately, in contracting, one’s success is quite often determined by knowing which projects to walk away from,” acknowledges Weideman. 

Good working relationships are therefore maintained by B&E, whose strategy for the next five years, together with Raubex Group, is to establish and foster a strong order book with quality clients that appreciate and can afford its services. 

These long-term partnerships, along with the company’s dedicated workforce and culture of delivering high-quality service, provide exceptional returns for stakeholders. 

“Being in the mining sector, capital is always an issue, and we are focused on jacking up our return on investment (ROI), which is something that shareholders keep an eye on,” Weideman informs us. 

“The returns are not quite what we would like them to be yet, but this is partly driven by the fact that we have large exposure to the construction and infrastructure sectors.” 

AMBITIOUS TARGETS

Weideman admits that B&E will have its work cut out to achieve the budget goals it has set for FY 2025. 

However, he hopes that there will be an economic upswing following the May election in which infrastructure-related projects that are on the table will be awarded and executed. 

Secondly, the company has certain health, safety, and environment (HSE) targets that it is very keen to meet, one of which is to achieve an entire year with zero lost time injuries (LTIs). 

Another of B&E’s goals is to expand its drilling and blasting offering as well as its processing capabilities in the fields of chrome, PGMs, and other minerals. 

The latter will particularly come in handy for the projects that B&E is actively seeking and working on throughout Africa and north of the Limpopo River. 

“Finally, we are very focused on the use of technology to improve our service offerings and performance,” concludes Weideman. 

Offering premium services made possible by a culture of excellence and long-term relationships, B&E is on a mission to become the partner of choice to the mining and construction industries in Southern Africa and beyond.

B&E INTERNATIONAL PARTNER

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By Jack Salter Head of Editorial
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Jack Salter is an in-house writer for Africa Outlook Magazine, where he is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.