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Explosives market gets more competitive

May 17, 2018
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

EPC Groupe rebrands Canadian unit

As an integral part of a global explosives manufacturer, EPC Canada hopes to expand its customer base to include larger mining companies not previously served by Nordex Explosives.

EPC Nordex, a Kirkland Lake manufacturer of explosives for the mining, quarrying and construction industries, has been rebranded as EPC Canada by its Paris-based parent company EPC Groupe.

Founded in 1970, Nordex Explosives Ltd. was acquired by the EPC Groupe in August 2016, introducing a third major supplier of explosives to the Canadian market and a competitor for Orica and Dyno-Nobel.

“Following an extensive period of market research, we now know our aim of positioning the company as a formidable force within the commercial explosives market in Canada will be best achieved through a new, reinvigorated identity,” said Ben Williams, president and CEO of EPC Canada.

“The market was telling us they wanted another player. Some of the customers I’ve been meeting with since we took over had different levels of historical information around Nordex and its performance, so we wanted to make it clear that it’s now part of the EPC Groupe and it’s fully integrated into the way we operate.”

The EPC Groupe is celebrating its 125th year in business, has more than 2,000 employees, operates in 41 countries, and has revenues of more than C$532 million.

Since acquiring Nordex, EPC Groupe has made a significant investment in the Kirkland Lake plant, supplying it with “a brand new packaging unit,” said Williams, who oversees the company’s operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America.

“The unique thing that EPC Canada will be able to offer in comparison with Orica and Dyno-Nobel, our two main competitors, is that we tend to look at each mine and each sales opportunity in a way that suits the mine, rather than coming with a suite of products and saying ‘these are the products we have.’ We are prepared to make products to order.”

Nordex was an attractive takeover target for EPC Groupe because it was the only manufacturer of stick explosives in Canada, said Williams. “We were impressed with the quality and consistency of the their product, but its customer base consisted primarily of small to medium tier mining companies.”

As an integral part of a global explosives manufacturer, EPC Canada is now able to offer security of supply that larger mining companies require and hopes to expand its customer base.

Williams acknowledges that it can be challenging breaking into a market dominated by two entrenched competitors. “But we’ve been in business for 125 years, we’ve been through these hoops in other markets and I’m sure that most big companies will be happy to have a third option, and a real third option as well.”

Future plans include the addition of gas emulsion manufacturing capability in Kirkland Lake and an expansion of the company’s footprint in terms of sales and depots to other regions of the country, including Quebec and British Columbia, over the next 24 months.

Core manufacturing capability, however, will remain in Kirkland Lake.

EPC Canada had a booth at the CIM show in Vancouver May 6 to 9, and will be exhibiting at the Canadian Mining Expo in Timmins June 6 and 7.


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