EPC Groupe Europe and the Mediterranean : Pushing the Boundaries of Excellence

Eddie ClintonLily Sawyer
Eddie Clinton - Senior Head of Projects Lily Sawyer - Editor
Highlights
  • EPC Groupe has established itself at the forefront of explosives manufacturing, storage, and distribution over the years, specialised in drilling and blasting.
  • Boasting 800 employees, five factories, and 35 storage magazines, EPC Groupe’s activity in the Euro-Mediterranean area is responsible for around a third of its turnover.
  • Going forward, the company’s priorities are to maintain its current positive perspectives in terms of rentability, focus on technological tools and digitalisation, and to accompany the growth of the mining sectors in Morocco and Spain.
  • “We play a key role in the mining chain, and we enact this responsibility with passion in order to continue contributing positively to our industry,” says Luis Calvo, Area Manager for Europe and the Mediterranean, EPC Groupe.

EPC Groupe, a world leader in explosives, has primarily served the global mining sector for over 130 years. Luis Calvo, Area Manager for Europe and the Mediterranean, shares his insights into the company’s burgeoning success in the region.

PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF EXCELLENCE

With locations across Asia Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and Europe, supported by a 2,600-strong global employee base, EPC Groupe has established itself at the forefront of explosives manufacturing, storage, and distribution over the years, with a specialism in drilling and blasting.  

In 2023, EPC Groupe’s collective turnover totalled €548 million, including joint ventures (JVs). Boasting 800 employees, five factories, and 35 storage magazines, EPC Groupe’s activity in the Euro-Mediterranean area is responsible for around a third of this total.   

“Counting all our Euro-Mediterranean plants, EPC Groupe produces a wide range of bulk and cartridge explosives, boosters, and detonators. Regarding on-site production, mobile explosives mixing units (MEMUs) deliver bulk products directly into the boreholes of blasts,” opens Luis Calvo, Area Manager for Europe and the Mediterranean. 

This area serves customers from its subsidiaries in Belgium, France, Italy, Morocco, and Spain, and boasts the first ever facility of the group, located in Saint-Martin-de-Crau, France.  

Historically, EPC Groupe has served the Euro-Mediterranean quarry industry, a mature and well-established market in France. Whilst remaining focused on these key markets, the area is also keen to expand further into the global mining sector by participating more avidly in local mines through exports. 

“We are looking at these markets with increasing interest, and we have identified opportunities in Spain and Morocco, for instance,” Calvo insights.  

“We intend to do this by optimising our existing operations, whilst looking for growth opportunities from the exports and sales generated by our legacy site in France and our brand-new facility in Morocco,” he explains.   

For example, a business continuity plant (BCP) that provides back-ups in the case of supply issues has proven vital in recent years, especially as the Euro-Mediterranean area has faced raw material shortages and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.  

“Our setup has allowed us to continue our operations and dedication to customers unaffected during these situations,” Calvo prides.  

“Our customers consistently return to us for major opportunities globally due to our expertise.”  

In this way, EPC Groupe works together with all its stakeholders in the area to provide the best technical and operational solutions. 

“We play a key role in the mining chain, and we enact this responsibility with passion in order to continue contributing positively to our industry,” he affirms. 

“We play a key role in the mining chain, and we enact this responsibility with passion in order to continue contributing positively to our industry”

Luis Calvo, Area Manager for Europe and the Mediterranean, EPC Groupe

STANDING OUT FROM THE COMPETITION

As a technology-driven organisation, EPC Groupe has noted a clear, industry-wide evolution towards advancements in data management, particularly in bulk explosives supply and blast optimisation. 

EPC Groupe’s commitment to technological innovation is reflected in its recent acquisition of Vibraquipo and Vibratesting, two Spanish-based companies that specialise in advanced vibration measurement solutions for the mining and construction industries.  

“These acquisitions are a great contribution to our digitalisation and data management strategy, and align seamlessly with EPC Groupe’s overall mission to push the boundaries of excellence,” he acclaims.  

The region has also experienced an increasing demand for full rock-on-ground (ROG) services, in which the company manages all the parts of the blast, including design, implementation, drilling, delivery, and charging.  

The design element of ROG is achieved in conjunction with the software application Vertex©, which optimises EPC Groupe’s drilling and blasting operations to ensure efficiency.  

“Vertex© covers the entire blast lifecycle, from design and planning to data analysis. It includes three main digital tools – Expertir©, Expertab™, and Explore™.”   

Expertir© is EPC Groupe’s in-house blast design software, a highly advanced drilling and blasting technology package used by 150 of its sites across France, acting as a ‘digital quarry’ that combines surveying and blast design creation. 

Expertab™, meanwhile, is a digital platform that enables drilling reports and loading plans to be seamlessly generated and uploaded by operators live from the field.  

When used in conjunction with Expertab™, the Explore™ database enables EPC Groupe to improve both its blast capabilities and the acceptability of its quarries.  

It is hoped that synergies between Vibraquipo, Vibratesting, and the Vertex© technologies will drive innovation and create unparalleled value for EPC Groupe’s clients. 

In addition, the company’s endless dedication to customers, combined with its provision of advanced solutions, help it to stand out from the crowd.

“The use of technology is an axis in which we continue to advance”

Luis Calvo, Area Manager for Europe and the Mediterranean, EPC Groupe

PROJECTS, PROGRESSION, AND ADVANCEMENTS

Having been established two years ago, EPC Groupe’s Morocco factory has been heralded as a game-changer for the region.  

The new facility has contributed significantly to storage capacity, whilst increasing logistics capabilities to supply key markets.  

“We have implemented state-of-the-art production lines for watergel cartridges, ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO), and detonators. We plan to implement additional capabilities and technologies on this site to adapt to our customers’ demands and the growing mining market,” Calvo expands.  

Catering to international demand for the African market is one of the key focus areas for the Moroccan factory, which EPC Groupe anticipates becoming a major hub. 

Since its inauguration, the business has proudly been part of many major technological revolutions. Today, it is unquestionably a key player in the global extractive industry. 

Despite being engaged with a whole host of recent projects, including technological advancements with Vertex©, the successful acquisition of Vibraquipo and Vibratesting, and the development of a new plant in Morocco, EPC Groupe is constantly expanding its areas of operation in the Euro-Mediterranean area by way of innovating for the future.  

As such, it has recently been awarded sought-after contracts with Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin (TELT), a cross-border freight and passenger railway line between Lyon, France, and Turin, Italy, which is scheduled for completion in 2030.  

With construction work already underway, the new line will feature a 67 kilometre (km) section across the border of Italy and France, including a 57.5km tunnel between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, France, and Susa, Italy, which represents an investment of around €8.6billion – jointly funded by the EU, French, and Italian governments.   

“EPC France, a key player for EPC Groupe, has so far been awarded contracts for the supply and on-site production of explosives for two of the main sections of this tunnel, which is a huge development for us within the Euro-Mediterranean area,” Calvo excites.  

Further to this, a contract for two tunnel boring machines (TBS) to continue to excavate the TELT tunnel a further 18km towards Italy has been awarded with European consortiums such as VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Webuild.  

“Being selected to manage all the currently awarded works for this major European infrastructure project shows the combined capability and commitment of all our teams,” he notes.  

Going forward, the company’s priorities in the Euro-Mediterranean market are to maintain its current positive perspectives in terms of rentability, continue to focus on technological tools and digitalisation to increase value for all customers, and accompany the growth of the mining sectors in Morocco and Spain.

SHAPING THE PRESENT, INNOVATING FOR THE FUTURE

Industrial innovation is an undeniable hallmark of the group’s strategy, which is reflected in its new R&D centre – a fundamental tool for EPC Groupe’s growing R&D activities. 

“Representing an investment of over €2million, this facility boasts three warehouses including a control and command laboratory, three mobile equipment assembly workshops, four pyrotechnic control and qualification stations, and a test production area,” Calvo informs us.  

As such, the R&D centre is ideal for testing new processes and chemical products, allowing EPC Groupe to gain production and logistics capabilities that will have a major impact for both local and global exports.  

Therefore, the company will be able to supply key mining markets that were not previously accessible, as well as products to international customers within the region.  

“Our development of logistics lines will be key for this expansion,” he concludes.  

This brand new facility broadens the horizons for EPC Groupe, enabling it to develop tomorrow’s products and services that will effectively meet the expectations of customers.

EPC GROUPE EUROPE AND THE MEDITERRANEAN PARTNER

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By Eddie Clinton Senior Head of Projects
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Eddie Clinton is a Senior Head of Projects for Mining Outlook. Eddie is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Eddie is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Eddie to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Lily Sawyer Editor
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Lily Sawyer is an in-house writer for Mining Outlook Magazine, where she is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.