Nitro Explosives: 20 years of sweat, success in the commercial explosives industry

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After many years of hard work, sacrifice and innovation, the new kid on scene-Nitro Explosive Company (T) now turns 20.

The firm deals in safe commercial explosives used in mining and infrastructure projects.

It was established in 2002 as a result of investment by Nitro’s directors and shareholders.

It all began with the idea of Mr Johan Viljoen, co-founder of the company, to do something right in small scale mining.

He partnered with a Tanzanian businessman and eventually on 22, February 2002, the first consignment of commercial explosives arrived after the tedious process of acquiring a license.

It took time and the humble beginnings to get all the way to the top of the market—the tough goings he wishes to one day document them in a book.

Nitro has, along its growth trajectory, distinguished itself from others by simply reasoning to be the best and not biggest.

Mr Johan shares with The Citizen on few things about the company’s activities ahead of this important 20 years milestone.

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It is fairly to note that the majority of Tanzanians know little about the Nitro-Explosives. Can you tell us what it means?

Nitro is about people, so I regard my employees as a family and not employees. The staff have a habit of humbly serving clients and the public in general.

Nitro is also about having loyal customers. We always take time to serve our customers and support them with technical know-how and quality products.

Nitro is led by a strong partnership. In 2017 a global company--Austin Powder Africa Inc from the USA--bought into Nitro as a shareholder.

I also thank my wife and children for their understanding and patience.

What are the key areas of the operations of the company?

The safe storage and distribution of commercial explosives as per the laws of Tanzania. This ranges from infrastructure projects, medium sized mines to small mines. Most of the roads we are using today were made through blasting activities carried out by Nitro.

Currently, Nitro is the sole blasting company developing the Standard Gauge Railway Project in cut sections, borrow pits, and tunnels.

Recently, we have started to produce emulsion on test basis in Tanzania with the USA technology and can be called a truly Tanzanian manufactured product.

We hope to produce more items locally. All raw materials have to be imported in this industry.

The firm marks the 20 year anniversary of its safe explosives business in the country. What does this mean?

Simple, an applause to everybody in the company for working hard and staying loyal to the company.

How do you see the market trend of the explosive’s subsector in Tanzania? Does it levitate or stuck in a way?

For the commercial explosives sector, it will grow for companies that stick to high ethics. This means sustainability.

Mining itself will grow as the minerals are under our feet and the demand for export and processing is there. With a fast-growing population there is no other way.

The regulators must make good decisions that benefit Tanzania and its people. It will naturally get stuck if double standards are allowed.

Moreover, the players in this industry should focus a bit on newer technologies and reliable quality products. The concept of cheap is always actually expensive.

What don’t we know much about explosives?

Not many individuals work with commercial explosives. This is how it should be.

If any person sees a vehicle with red flags, the words “explosives” or “baruti” or the yellow sign of explosives or “hazardous load” must keep clear, stay away and stay on a safe distance.

If an explosive vehicle, for example, is involved in some sort of accident – run away, stay away, far away.

How does your company push forward the country’s economic trajectory?

First, offering employment opportunities as we grow and paying tax. Second, it is to try to push up small scale miners and grow into medium or large enterprises.

I hope that more small scale can understand to re-invest into their mines and thinking less of diversifying.

What should be rectified by the Government to help develop the subsector?

The government will not lower tax burdens. So, if the government’s departments can communicate with one another and level the playing field, it will be great for the industry’s sustainable growth.

Where is the company aspiring to be after five to ten years from now?

There is a growth or development plan in place. The company’s first goal is to increase its footprint in Tanzania, manufacture more products locally and then move to more exports to neighboring countries.

Tanzania can take the lead as it is the most experienced mining country in East Africa and has good port facilities and a decent road network.

Conclusively, the concept of cheap products is in fact expensive, due to low and possible unsafe performance.

Nitro Explosives contacts are as follows:

Call Centre: +255 684 700004 / 0272 548 576