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©2010 Caterpillar. All rights reserved. CAT, CATERPILLAR, their respective logos and ‘Caterpillar Yellow’, and the POWER EDGE trade dress, as well as corporate and product identity used herein, are trademarks of Caterpillar and may not be used without permission.

December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Editor’s Pick Two thousand and ten will be remembered as a year of triumph and tragedy in mining communities around the world, especially in Chile and New Zealand. Just over four months ago, 33 Chilean miners were trapped deep underground when a section of the copper and gold mine they were working in collapsed. The world watched in anticipation as news emerged they were alive. Over the coming weeks, rescue crews devised ways to lower essentials like water and medicine to the trapped men, while engineers scrambled to devise a way to free the men from their subterranean prison. Three separate shafts were dug, and after surviving an incredible 69 days and almost 700 metres underground, the men were carefully raised – one at a time – in a specially-designed capsule to the surface. Hours later, when the scraped and dented capsule made its final trip, it contained shift foreman Luis Alberto Urzua Iribarren. Few could contain their tears of joy as he emerged alive and remarkably fit, receiving a hero’s welcome as he stepped above ground for the first time in over two months. A mere five weeks after the Chilean miners were rescued, another mining story was fast unfolding almost 10,000 kilometres away in New Zealand. Twenty-nine miners and contractors became trapped following a methane gas explosion at Pike River Coal’s mine at Atarau near Greymouth. The explosion – which cut power and ventilation fans – left the men stranded about 150 metres below the earth’s surface. Over the next few days rescue efforts were hampered by the imminent risk of toxic gases. Soon the nationalities of the trapped miners and contractors was confirmed: two dozen were New Zealanders, and two were Australians. Another pair were British citizens, and the last was South African. The situation was dire. Families of some mine workers were taken to the site to view the catastrophe for themselves. That Sunday, the local Anglican Church was full. As other nations offered their support, air samples revealed levels of poisonous gas were still too dangerously high for rescue crews to jeopardise their own lives. One robot sent inside broke down, while another found a miner’s helmet with the light glowing, but nothing more. Days passed, and optimism turned to despair as disaster struck again: a second explosion. This time, there was no hope of survivors. Since the devastating loss of life, New Zealand and the world have united in grief over the deaths of the 29 men. New Zealand paused in silence to remember as a memorial service with photographs, mementoes, and 29 helmets honoured the dead. The eldest was 62-year-old Keith Thomas Valli, a lawn bowler known as the “quiet giant.” The youngest was Joseph Ray Dunbar, who turned 17 just the day before he went down the mine for the first time. More than 11,000 gathered to show their respects for the miners and their families at Greymouth’s Omoto racetrack. It is believed that it will take weeks, even months, to recover the bodies of the miners. A Royal Commission of Inquiry will be held to investigate the disaster, including the cause of the explosion, the cause of loss of life, the effectiveness of systems, processes, practices and procedures. The Commission may also make recommendations regarding the prevention of future mining disasters, and what can be done to ensure safety in the area. Along with the Royal Commission, about $5 million has been raised for the families of the Pike River victims. It will not bring them back, but it will, at the least, help provide a future for their wives and children. Globally, mining claims the lives of an estimated 12,000 men and women every year, making it one of the world’s deadliest jobs. It is hoped that we will see more and greater safety measures in the years to come, and that the deaths of the 29 men at the Pike River mine will not have been in vain. It is with the utmost respect that the inaugural issue of Australian Resource Focus is dedicated to their memory.

Robert J. Hoshowsky

Created in 1989 by the Australian Trade commission, Austmine provides services to its members and promotes the nation’s mining technology and services sector internationally. Providing about 600,000 jobs and over $10 billion in annual exports, Australia’s MTS represents 110 member companies across the nation, shares research findings, provides network opportunities, and helps promote big and small mining technology companies through global opportunities. A world leader in mining communications and tracking, Mine Site Technologies is improving mining safety and productivity through its pioneering Personal Emergency Device system (PED) and other unique devices that help crews both above and far below ground. With its headquarters in Sydney, the company has offices and distributors worldwide, and its reliable and highly advanced systems can be found in over 450 mines worldwide. This coming April marks the fifth anniversary of the Beaconsfield gold mine collapse in Tasmania. In this issue, we dedicate a feature story to the events leading up to the collapse, the heroic efforts by rescue crews to free the trapped miners, the media frenzy surrounding the tragedy, and the aftermath of the men who survived the ordeal nearly one kilometre below the earth’s surface.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



Robert Hoshowsky Managing Editor Kulvir Singh Creative Art Director


Robert Chambers Director of Business Dev. Caleb Richard Research Manager Cameron Walsh Research Manager Tim Hocken Production Editor Christian Cooper Director of Operations Contributing Writers Aleisha Parr Jaime McKee Jen Hamilton John Boley Melissa Thompson Jeff Hocken Publisher 8th Floor, 55 Hunter St Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 4836, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: 02 8412 8119 ABN 93 143 238 126

06 News and Events

Industry News and Events

12 Kwinana Ind. Council

Good Neighbours

18 AllightSykes

One-Stop Shopping

34 Mine Site Technologies

The Leader in Mining Communications

42 Beaconsfield

A Story of Rescue

48 RaiseBore

The RaiseBore Family Values

56 Austmine


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Promoting Australian Mining Technology


Mine Site Tech


61 Alliance Contracting

Getting Down-To-Earth With Alliance Contracting


70 AlphaBlast

An Integrated Approach

76 Issues in Mine Closure

All That’s Left Behind

s 80 Aecom

Whole-Life Sustainability

86 Resource Star

Powering The Future

91 Metals X Limited

Fostering Community Relations

96 Pybar

Building Relationships

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


Job Ads on the Rise


ccording to the ANZ Job Advertisements Series, November figures revealed yet another increase in the number of jobs advertised in major metropolitan newspapers and on the Internet in November. The increase – for the seventh month in a row – displays a jump of 2.2 per cent last month for an average of 184,580 per week. The ads, say industry experts, are a reflection


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

of the growing strength of Australia’s labour market, with much of the growth coming from the resource sector, mining in particular. Experts predict that growth will continue for months, if not several years, as the Northern Territory, Queensland, and West Australia continue to hire employees for their mining sectors. Government officials are pleased at the figures, which are not only a sign of WA’s rising resource sector, but a benefit to other areas of the economy.

Potential Uranium Mining Boom for Australia

WA Mining is Going Green



ueled by the need for nuclear power from countries like India, Australia’s mining companies are planning to increase their uranium mining operations to keep pace with demand.

A chemically reactive radioactive metallic element, uranium is the primary fuel used in nuclear reactors, and Australia remains one of the major uranium producers in the world. Queensland alone has uranium resources estimated to be about 61.4 million kilograms, and valued at $10 billion. Despite the potential boon to the economy, it is not known if the controversial ban on uranium mining in Queensland will be overturned any time soon. With vast uranium deposits, freeing up uranium exploration and mining has the potential to create thousands of jobs in the mining sector. As the debate of uranium mining goes on, there are renewed calls for Australia to build its first nuclear power station in Mount Isa in the north-west of Queensland.

In a move towards self-regulation in the nation’s mining industry, The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy have joined forces to create a code to help mineral explorers with their environmental practices. The code is voluntary, and is aimed at creating a greater awareness of the repercussions of exploring and mining on the earth. The code covers a number of environmental issues and principles, including communication with other land use owners or stakeholders regarding access, and ways to keep land disturbance to a minimum.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


Good as Gold


Research in Question

ecent research conducted by the Queensland University of Technology about the degree of violence in mining communities Queensland and Western Australia has come under fire.


fter almost six years of exploration, Cortona Resources (ASX: CRC) says their Dargues Reef Project in the Araluen Valley will begin in the next few months. Feasibility research has confirmed the viability of the site, and defined a “robust gold deposit.” With the deposit located west of Batemans Bay on the New South Wales far south coast, Cortona Resources believes that the entire region will benefit from the project in terms of greater employment and other kinds of opportunities. After the sale of another project, the company recently strengthened its cash resources to the point where it can fund exploration, with two drilling rigs focusing on near-mine exploration at Dargues Reef. The recent feasibility study provided a base case 50,000 oz of gold production a year, and about a six-year mine life.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Interviewing miners and police officers, researchers concluded that a combination of alcohol, boredom, a high disposable income and a “gender imbalance” are factors behind physical assaults and other criminal acts. The research states that mining communities experience double the amount of violence than the state average. Researchers maintain boredom – especially inactive periods between work shifts – result in excessive amounts of drinking, a situation exacerbated by courtesy buses that drive workers directly to pubs. The research is being questioned by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, which maintains that mining companies invest heavily in creating a safe, social infrastructure, especially in camps located in isolated regions of the country. Others, like Opposition spokesman for state development Mark McGowan, have also questioned the accuracy of the report, while some police officers say that offences related to alcohol consumption are actually decreasing, due largely to the working relationships between police and the mining industry.

Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Expansion


n exchange for a one-off payment of $350 million, West Australian Government has agreed to lift a number of restrictions on BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto mines, which will allow them to expand their operations in the Pilbara, where the mining giants have been operating for about three decades. Recently passed, the Iron Ore Agreements Legislation Amendment will let the mining companies integrate their operations in the Pilbara, and construct shared electrical, rail, and other infrastructure. In addition to making mining operations more efficient through the sharing of infrastructure and projects previously under separate State agreements, the WA Government says monies from the amendment will help pay for a new state children’s hospital. Other expansion is on the horizon, and it is believed the move will add about $300 million to the state’s annual royalty income and create several thousand jobs, some of them permanent positions. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus


n the shores of the Indian Ocean in Australia’s southwest lies one of the country’s largest heavy-industry complexes, Kwinana Industrial Area (KIA). Known as Western Australia’s primary area of industrial development, it is also widely regarded as a model for industrial cooperation due to the presence of the Kwinana Industries Council (KIC), an unusual business association that liaises with the industries themselves, the community and regulators. KIA came into existence in the 1950s after the WA government negotiated an agreement with the Anglo Iranian Oil company, now BP, to construct an oil refinery. The agreement was formalised in 1952 with the rezoning of 2,400 hectares some 20km south of Fremantle for industrial purposes. As KIC’s director Chris Oughton explains, “the refinery was located a long way from Perth – at the time. Now, of course, Perth has moved south and encompasses the whole of the industrial area.” Other major names, including Alcoa and BHP Billiton, followed BP into the area. The sheltered waters of Cockburn Sound, a ready supply of labour from Perth and Fremantle, and the willingness of the government to develop a dedicated heavy industrial area all aided KIA’s growth, until a problem with emissions arose.

“The issue was with air-quality monitoring, sulphur dioxide in particular,” says Mr Oughton. “The regulators of the day decided that all the companies that emitted SO2 had to do monitoring of the concentrations on their site.” The industries responded with Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

KIC FULL MEMBERS • • • • • • • • • • • a simpler solution – joining forces to provide the data from as many monitoring stations as the regulators wanted; the companies would jointly arrange and manage the monitoring. This was agreed to, and a part-time staff member was brought in, spurring incorporation of the group and leading to the establishment of the KIC itself. This was not simply a PR exercise on behalf of the companies in KIA, says Mr Oughton, though he concedes that at the time “there was increasing community concern about industry’s performance in relation to the environment.” Formation of KIC helped to address this concern; as a non-profit incorporated business association with its membership drawn from all 12 major industries and many of the smaller businesses in KIA, it was incorporated in 1991 with the primary goals of facilitating community access to Kwinana industries and promoting high standards of business ethics and practices as well as promoting a positive image of the industries. KIA consists of a highly diverse range of industries from smaller service industries - including fabrication and construction - to large-scale

Alcoa World Alumina Australia BHP Billiton Nickel West BP Refinery (Kwinana) Cockburn Cement Coogee Chemicals CSBP Limited Fremantle Ports HIsmelt Corporation Tiwest Joint Venture Verve Energy Water Corporation

heavy process industries, such as alumina, nickel and oil refining. As a result, there are issues such as water, dust, community health and emissions to be dealt with and KIC acts as a filter, sounding board and facilitator of effective action. The council can commission independent research or consultancy to promote objectivity and neutrality, “although the naysayers in the community will always say we paid the consultants to say what we wanted them to say”, admits Mr Oughton. The council’s management and its committees have no binding powers to enforce compliance among its members. “What we’ve got is an industry association, the full members of which are the 12 big companies that pay for about 90 per cent of the operations of KIC. They are all free to do entirely their own thing (in accordance with environment regulatory compliance) but there is a collegiate approach which is about making sure the whole of KIA has a licence to operate well into the future. If there is a company that is not performing to the unwritten collegiate standard, then there would be a bit of a quiet discussion between some of the members and Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

they would sort it out.” It’s in everyone’s interest to make it work, in other words, and no big stick is needed. “We don’t have any such power, except to eject someone from the membership, which has never happened.” A series of committees set up and budgeted by the KIC board investigates any issues that do arise; these are composed of staff from the KIA companies who pool their expertise, share knowledge, and plan a course of action on various issues. Issues must affect more than one member before being considered. “We don’t get involved in single-company issues” unless there is a broader strategic problem involved, says Mr Oughton. What about conflicts of commercial confidentiality? “I’ve not seen it but there is always the potential for it. They are all professionals and they know what they can and can’t say.” For example the latest committee, covering workforce and education, is tasked with encouraging a stable workforce for the future. “The one resource they all compete for is the human resource. There are certain aspects of how they attract and retain their workforce that they don’t discuss, and if the conversation is going down that path, on an individual company basis they would pull back.” Safeguarding local employment is an important part of what KIC does, given the startling statistic that 64 per cent of KIA companies’ directly employed workforce of 5,000 are in an age group that will be retiring in 8-12 years. “That’s a massive problem.” Does the community appreciate what KIC does? “We survey the community every year,” says Mr

Oughton. “We are pro-industry of course, but through our committee work and the work I do we have very good relations with pretty much all aspects of the community – including schools, local government, sports clubs. It’s more like a good-neighbour relationship we have with our community. But there’s a handful of people in the community that are pretty anti-industry.” It’s also important to have good relationships with all levels of government “and that’s a big part of my job – to make sure those relations are in good health.” KIC was unique for a long time, says Mr Oughton, but in recent years there has been a lot of interest from around Australia and internationally – from as far away as Brazil – in this model. “The word is out there. [Perth-based] Curtin University has done many national and international conference papers on the KIC story. Curtin analysed a few similar operations they found worldwide and benchmarked KIC against one in South Africa and one in Holland and we came out top. We regard ourselves as international best practice.” Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



as it a problem or an opportunity? Here was a company with an established line of industry-leading lighting towers, which over a number of years had taken on distribution of top-quality related products including dewatering pumps and generators, yet had not noticed how the products were related. AllightSykes was not leveraging the advantages – for itself or for its customers – of the broad palette of brands that it had accumulated. Best-known for its mobile lighting towers, Perth-based AllightSykes is also the exclusive Australasia distributor of Perkins engines, FG Wilson power generators, Rotair compressors


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

and Godwin pumps, and has newly added another name to its stable in the form of Sykes Pumps. Each of four product lines (lighting, dewatering, power generation and engines) was represented by a distinct sales team and the business had become divided into two “silos”: manufactured products and distributed products. Sales and marketing director Paul Sowerby explains the situation. “All the parts of the jigsaw were there, but in some way they didn’t have the box-lid. All of these products were pivotal in running a successful mining or construction project; the problem was that we had some

guys going out selling generators to a mining or construction entity, other guys selling a lighting tower and another bunch of guys selling a pump. In many cases we would have the lighting guys walking past six opportunities to sell an engine on the way to try to close a lighting tower deal and I believe there was one notable occasion where two reps turned up at the same company at about the same time.”


It was at that point that AllightSykes decided to take action. “We took the view that enough is enough.” The company would abolish the entrenched manufactured products versus dis-

tributed products culture and “replace it with a much more unified light-power-air-water solution set – all of a sudden we had everyone empowered to sell everything.” The OneAllight initiative broke down the silos of manufactured/distributed products and every salesperson became part of one sales team. All of them now sell AllightSykes’s complete suite of equipment and each is dedicated to their group of clients, so that rather than selling a product, they provide solutions to their clients. The culture, says the company, is now “positive, collaborative, open, sharing, dedicated and team-centric”.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010




December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

A trigger, Mr Sowerby believes, was the global “economic meltdown” which, despite Australia being relatively sheltered from its effects, had brought a realisation of what everyone suspected – that the phones were no longer ringing off the hook and order-takers had to become more proactive to sell their products to their clients. “Everybody had to fight that much harder – it was not so much a crisis as an awakening” which galvanised the organisation into doing something that Mr Sowerby believes it had previously probably known about but had not been under pressure to do.

experts aplenty within the AllightSykes organisation. What they needed was “not another expert but someone who is removed from it and can take a dispassionate view but understands the rudiments of helping people to communicate more effectively – and that’s really all sales and marketing and brand development is.”

“Suddenly we needed a different way of doing things – I think [management] knew this needed to be tackled but didn’t quite know how to go about doing it. I guess I just happened to be around at the right time.” Mr Sowerby’s background is far removed from this sphere. A former crime reporter in the UK, he moved into PR and arrived in Australia some five years ago. In contact with AllightSykes, he saw a great opportunity. He is not a technician – “sometimes the technical guys may as well be talking to me in Serbo-Croat” - but there were Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


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December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus


The OneAllight initiative called for changes to be made to the staff’s way of thinking, so what was the reaction? “The biggest fear was change. Change is invigorating for some but intimidating and overwhelming for others. The biggest part of

the challenge was to tease very competent and capable people out of their comfort zone and make them understand that in providing them with the opportunity to have a wider-reaching portfolio of products, there was more opportunity for personal growth – and that’s how we packaged it. A proud business partner of

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Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


ABB low voltage products are the key to reliability? Absolutely.

The series of Emax air circuit breakers are available in three sizes in both the fixed and withdrawable versions. With rated uninterrupted currents from 800 to 6300 A and breaking capacities up to 150kA at 415V. Different models of circuit breakers for each size are available, with the same height and depth dimensions, but with various rated currents and different breaking capacities. Emax can be used both as circuit breakers for general protection (industrial, commercial and distribution) and as protection circuit breakers of electrical machines (generators, motors, transformers and capacitors). Visit our website to find out more:

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| Australian Resource Focus

Quality, Portable Air Compressors AllightSykes now exclusively distributes the Italian-built range of Rotair portable air compressors in Australia. According to Paul Sowerby, Rotair’s industrial products have a solid reputation around the globe, and particularly in Europe. “When we considered adding portable air compressors to our range of power solutions, Rotair was an obvious choice,” he said. “Their patented air-oil filtration system is a breakthrough in compressed air technology.” The range includes the MDVN series and the mine-specification MDVS series of portable compressors, both with rotary air screw technology, designed to produce minimum noise and maximum compressed air quality, and both powered by Perkins engines. Compressors in the MDVN series offer a free air delivery range of 2,100 to 7,100 litres per minute (74 to 251 cfm). The direct transmission motorised compressors in the MDVS series have a heavy-duty specification with a free air delivery range of 9,500 to 12,000 litres per minute, (354 to 424 cfm) at pressures between 7 and 12 bar.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


“We had identified some people who might struggle more than others and tried to compensate for the extent to which they were outside their comfort zone.” Did the programme prompt staff turnover? “I don’t think anyone left the organisation for reasons that could be directly linked to OneAllight,” says Mr Sowerby. The company put in place a mentoring programme to help “cross-pollination” of expertise and avoid staff being left to fend for themselves. There is also the so-called ‘TFIM’ scheme, “where we celebrate the start of the week.” This is a website and a resource centre for staff. But OneAllight was not just a vehicle for internal cultural change. “There is a net gain for the end user because the marketplace now can buy all its requirements from one entity. Light, power, air and water are the constituent requirements of any mining or construction project – we had them all but we weren’t offering them to everyone.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

“All we have done is switch the light on – all of the constituent parts were there; there wasn’t anything wrong with AllightSykes.” Staff, Mr Sowerby says, are able to do their job in a more creative and constructive way; “I sometimes think what we did with our people (and we are fortunate to have some great people here) is we took the handcuffs off them – empowered them and gave them a set of shiny new tools. We spent a lot of time on the branding and packaging – we got dressed for the party – so they had some amazing tools when they went out to present this light-power-air-water proposition.”


AllightSykes is part of National Hire, which also owns Coates Hire. Mr Sowerby describes the way Coates, a billion-dollar business, took $125 million-turnover AllightSykes as preferred supplier, “a big orange thousand-pound gorilla

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


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December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

EnviroLight: A Safe Alternative A wildlife-friendly mobile lighting system designed to illuminate mining and construction sites in environmentally sensitive areas was developed in response to calls for a lifeline for Barrow Island’s population of flat backed turtles during the $43 billion Gorgon project. The island is also one of the world’s top breeding grounds for sea turtles. Studies have shown they are dramatically disorientated by artificial light; which makes it harder for them to reach the sea quickly from their beach nests. High bright light from industrial projects is known to be particularly attractive to vulnerable hatchlings and can make them move in the wrong direction. Delays in their journey to the water can result in death from exhaustion and dehydration – or from the predators who find them easier to spot. The concern was that the Barrow Island turtle rookeries might be exposed to disorienting bright white light throughout the night. As a result, a restriction of light emissions is one of the environmental conditions imposed on Barrow Island’s developers. sourcing products from a minnow”. Suspecting some complacency had crept into the relationship, he devised a programme parallel to the OneAllight initiative called Coates Feel the

Love. One simple facet of this was to assign a business development manager to be in charge solely of the Coates account – to treat the company like a most valued customer rather than

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


AllightSykes Con

AllightSykes has added to its stable of world class m news that its parent company, National Hire Group Lt Group. Completion of the deal is subject to a numbe the end of 2010. Sykes has been a major player in A since 2003 has extended its reach into major minin technology behind its range of auto prime pumps, Newcastle in NSW and Dubai, is widely regarded as a

The acquisition will give the combined group greate support of pumps, lighting towers and other distribu National Hire, said: “This is a company transforming support business. Sykes Group provides scale, volum that will help underpin future growth.”

merely a stablemate. Also running parallel is Dealer 101, aimed at “understanding the distinction between a customer and a dealer. We found ourselves spread very thin outside Australia, so we came up with a very rigid 7-step programme” to identify and incentivise dealers. “We look after our customers very well, but moving from customer to dealer and truly understanding what a dealer is, is another very important external discipline.” The OneAllight initiative appears to have been


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

ntinues to Grow

mining and construction equipment brands following td, has purchased leading pump manufacturer Sykes er of conditions and is expected to take place before Australia’s pump market for more than 40 years, and ng and construction markets around the world. The which are produced at its manufacturing bases in among the most advanced in the world.

er capacity to meet customer demand for sales and uted products. Andrew Aitken, managing director of g acquisition for National Hire’s equipment sales and me and distribution opportunities for National Hire

a win-win: good for staff, good for the clients. “It was obviously vital to get buy-in from the customers.” Rebranding of the lighting-tower business, with a new website and a full-scale information portal, have created an environment where “customers feel it’s very easy to do business with us. It’s about doing simple things really well and being fanatical about service.” And to demonstrate that the changes have not exactly harmed AllightSykes itself, Mr Sowerby points to the order book. “Traditionally at around $17-22 million, it’s currently standing at $44 million. Obviously we are moving in the right direction!” Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



n today’s fast-paced world, communication has become virtually instantaneous. Through the use of cell phones, pagers and other handheld devices, two-way wireless technologies and instant messaging, we have become a society reliant on getting in touch whenever and wherever we choose. When communication systems stop working it can be frustrating, but in sectors like mining, keeping in constant contact to ensure the safety of workers and smooth operations of mining activities is crucial.

tracking, Mine Site Technologies is helping to improve mining productivity and safety through state of the art equipment and service above and below ground. With its head office in Sydney, the company also has offices in Mount Isa, Kalgoorlie, the United States, Canada, and China, along with distributors around the globe. A rapidly-growing business, Mine Site Technologies employs 130 staff members, and its advanced systems have been installed in over 450 mines worldwide.

A world leader in mining communications and

“Ultimately, communications is communica-


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

tions, and it comes down to whether the components of which you build the system are fit for purpose,” says Christian Fischer, General Manager for Mine Site. “We have built equipment that is purpose-designed in the first instance to go in underground mines.” One of the advanced technologies pioneered by Mine Site is the “through the earth paging system,” which penetrates rock strata, and can be used to send emergency messages to underground personnel, or to centrally control underground blasting detonation as the mine is developed. Better known as the PED System – an acronym

for Personal Emergency Device – it was the original product developed by Mine Site Technologies when the company was founded 20 years ago. First developed as a fast and dependable method of informing underground miners of emergency situations, the PED System is an ultra low frequency, through-the-earth (TTE) communication system that is used for paging, control, and centralized blast initiation. Staff above ground can readily contact personnel underground, no matter where they are located. To date, PED remains the only proven, commercially available TTE mine communica-

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

In sectors like mining, keeping in constant contact to ensure the safety of workers and smooth operations of mining activities is crucial.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


“We have built equipment that is purpose-designed in the first instance to go in underground mines.� -Christian Fischer, General Manager, Mine Site Technologies


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

tion system available, and has been installed in over 150 mines in the past 20 years. Through the use of low frequency (ULF) electromagnetic signals, PED is able to send and receive signals through hundreds of metres of rock strata. Signals can be received at any location throughout the mine with an antenna on the surface only, or a small underground antenna, making PED a highly effective emergency communication system. Instead of warning workers underground of a dangerous situation – such as a fire – they can be alerted to specific locations to avoid, and evacuation routes.

Life-Saving Technology

One of the best examples of the use of PED remains the Willow Creek Mine explosions and fire. On July 31, 2000, there were a series of four explosions in the coal mine, located in Carbon County, Utah. Methane and other gases ignited, and fire rapidly spread. At one point, a miner received a PED signal that the mine should be

evacuated. Although there were two fatalities as a result of the second and third explosions, the loss of life could have been far worse, were it not for the use of Mine Site’s PED to alert miners. The systems of today used in mines are far more complex than old-fashioned two-way communication. “Typically, when an underground mine puts in a telecommunications network or an IP network, it is there to support a multitude of different applications, and it needs to be fit for deployment in an underground mine,” says Mr Fischer. “You don’t want to have lots and lots of bits of equipment to do multiple, different tasks; you want to have as much built in to a network element as you possibly can, and that’s what we do.” Along with PED, Mine Site Technologies not only builds the hardware used for mine communication, but designs entire systems for the mines using Wi-Fi and other technologies. Us-

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


ing components from countries like Australia, Canada, and China, final product assembly and testing is performed in Australia. “Once we actually have the device itself, the key thing that is critical with these networks is actually to system engineer the network. We design it, put it together, and test the system, rather than the individual components,” remarks Mr Fischer. An underground mine can contain dozens of interconnected wireless network switches, and Mine Site performs rigorous testing to ensure the devices are all properly “talking” to one another. Systems are designed specifically for the mine in which they are located, and as much information – from IP addresses to range and the names of employees using mine phones – is pre-pro-

switching are in specifically designed enclosures. “The requirements are different in coal mines compared to hard rock mines,” comments Mr Fischer. “Coal mines are a particularly hazardous underground environment. A gold mine or a copper mine, they’re hazardous enough, but a coal mine has gases, so it’s a potentially explosive atmosphere. There is also a risk of roof falls and everything else that can happen in an underground mine.”

grammed in advance, long before the equipment is installed on-site. “You want to have as much pre-configured as you possibly can,” says Mr Fischer.

tagging, Wi-Fi tracking systems, cap lamps, and high data wireless mesh systems for open pit and surface communications. In the three and a half years since Mr Fischer joined the privately-owned company, he has witnessed many dramatic technological changes, especially in the change from analogue communication networks to IP networks. “We’re one of very few companies that have an approved voice-over IP handset specifically for mining,” he says. “You can buy a voice over IP handset from anyone,

Members of Mine Site’s staff perform hardware maintenance on site, yet much of the software support is performed remotely through the company’s systems. Technologies vary for use in different kinds of mines; when it comes to coal mines, network elements used through Internet


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Advanced Mining Solutions

Providing solutions to the world’s mining industry, Mine Site Technologies offers expertise in a number of areas, including underground communications, remote blasting systems, mine

but ours are purpose-built for mining, and intrinsically safe for use in coal mines.” Through ongoing product research, product development, and innovation, Mine Site Technologies is leading the way in mining industry communications in Australia and around the world. Key technologies like ImPact, BlastPED, and TRACKER enable not only seamless communication, but enable high data applications such as tracking, video, VoIP, remote vehicle diagnostics, blast initiation systems, and the continuous, real-time monitoring of miners and equipment underground. State of the art devices like the Integrated Communications Cap Lamp (ICCL) are a mere one-third of the weight of existing units, yet can include a range of communication and safety devices such as PED and/or Tagging and/ or Radio. One exciting new product is the Impact Communications Appliance (ICA), a server delivered to the mine “which has built into it all of the common applications that an underground digital network would be typically used for,” comments Mr Fischer. Features like a voice server, tracking, and an application that pulls vehicle info can be sent to a spreadsheet or database. Common applications are unified into a single web-based platform, “where you can do everything from call an individual underground person on their mine phone, to bring up a map of the underground mine, and look at the movements around the mine of people and assets,” says Mr Fischer. With these and other technologies, Mine Site Technologies continues to serve the needs of clients like Xstrata, Centennial Coal, Datong Coal, Newmont Gold, Barrick, Inco, and many others in hundreds of mines in Australia, the United States, China, Canada, Peru, Sweden, Finland, Chile, Tanzania, Zambia, Mali and the DRC. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



istorians speculate the Australian landscape has been mined for tens of thousands of years beginning with Aborigines digging for stones suitable for tools, weapons, and ceremonial items. The arrival of European settlers in the late 18th century signaled the beginning of modern mining. Sandstone was used to build early community buildings in Sydney Cove, while coal was first discovered in 1781 in the Newcastle area; in the 1840s, the resources of lead, copper, and silver deposits kept the colonies out of bankruptcy. The discovery of gold in 1851 was responsible for a large increase in immigrants – near-


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

ly 1 million in a decade - from the United Kingdom looking to make their fortunes. While gold deposits dried up at the end of the 19th century, the heritage buildings that still stand are testaments to the prosperity of the times and provide a glimpse of life in turn of the century Australia. The Australian landscape continues to be mined to this day, and has proven to be a rich resource for many minerals and precious metals. This prosperity sometimes does come at a price. The environment can be harsh and unforgiving, even for the most seasoned miner. The precarious

-By Melissa Thompson

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


nature of working underground has taken the lives of many of its workforce all over the world. April 2011 will mark the five-year anniversary of the Beaconsfield gold mine collapse in Tasmania. The ordeal began on the morning of April 25th, 2006 when a small tremor caused the earth below to become unsteady and subsequently give way. 14 of the 17 men who were working at the time were able to escape. The three men who did not escape through the safety tunnel were identified as Larry Knight, Brant Webb and Todd Russell. At the time of the earthquake, Mr Knight was driving the teleloader while Mr Webb and Mr Russell were in the front caged basket applying steel mesh to the walls of the tunnel to secure the ceiling area and prevent rock falls. At the time, they were working nearly one kilometer below the earth’s surface.

Discovery and Rescue

The next day, rescuers began using an earthmover by remote control to search for the men. Tragically, Mr Knight was found in the shaft unresponsive. He was 44 years old. Several attempts were made to blast new tunnels in front of the teleloader, as going in behind it was deemed unsafe. With each successive blast, more and more rock fell, faster than the two men could clear it. They detailed the dates and times of each successive explosion as each one could have resulted in a final collapse. They waited tired and scared; entombed in a dark and rockfilled cage. Five days after the initial collapse on April 30th, rescuers Pat Ball, Underground Manager, and Steve Saltmarsh, the Mine Foreman, entered the 925 level – a location deemed off-limits and unsafe. The two men called out and Todd


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

and Brant responded with jubilation by yelling, “We’re in here!”

thought to have sustained a concussion during the initial collapse.

Meanwhile above ground, families were ecstatic upon hearing the two were alive and the news was met with considerable media interest. Hundreds of journalists flocked to the small town and the story was a constant fixture in national and international newscasts.

On 1 May 2006 rescuers were so close yet agonisingly far from the miners - a mere 12 meters lay between the men and the rescue equipment. They would still not be free for another 8 days. The men requested and received items through a PVC pipe approximately 1 meter in diameter. It was fed through a previous hole that, while offering a direct route to the miners, was deemed unsafe to excavate further. Items received included a digital camera to document their surroundings, a torch, new clothes, and toiletry items. The men were able to correspond via letters to their families. It was also on this date the two men were informed of their colleague Larry Knight’s unfortunate passing.

For the five days between the collapse and discovery the men kept their spirits up by singing. They had some access to groundwater and carefully rationed a muesli bar. They wrote what might have been their last messages to loved ones. They had both sustained injuries in the initial collapse. Mr Russell’s knee was injured and pressure on his back put stress on his sciatic nerve. Mr Webb also had injuries to knees, several vertebrae and his neck, and was

It was decided a raise borer anchored in con Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

crete would be used to create a horizontal tunnel. The drilling of a 20 cm pilot hole commenced with a larger hole to follow. This took more than three days to complete because of the nature of the men’s position in relation to insecure rock. The rock being drilled through was particularly hard and could only be drilled through at just under half a meter an hour. In the early morning hours of May 9th, rescuers finally had contact with the two exhausted men. Brant Webb was freed at 4:47 a.m. and Todd Russell followed at 4:54 a.m. After getting a clean bill of health from the doctor, both men walked out of the lift cage unaided and straight into the arms of their families and loved ones. Their two-week ordeal finally came to an end, although bitter-sweetly, as later that day they paid their respects to their fallen co-worker.


The two men were approached by several production companies interested in buying their

story; the story had certain appeal to media in the United States, as earlier in the year two mining disasters had resulted in the heartbreaking deaths of 15 miners in West Virginia. Oprah Winfrey’s production company Harpo, among other outlets, expressed interest in the Beaconsfield story. A book was written with the participation of the two men entitled Bad Ground: Inside the Beaconsfield Mine Rescue and was published in 2007. The rock band The Foo Fighters wrote an instrumental tribute song entitled “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” securing their legacy in Australian pop culture. Australia owes much to those employed by the mining industry, particularly the ones who risk their lives on a daily basis extracting precious resources. The success of the Australian economy is dependant on the work of these brave men and women and we must be careful never to take them for granted. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


-By Aleisha Parr


ecently announcing its new branding, logo and identity, RaiseBore hopes the change will represent, in graphic form, its entrance into a new era and the “realisation of its true global focus”. The new logo, which ingeniously utilises an inverted letter “i” to represent the drill string, reamer and cutter crater, also highlights the company’s safety emphasis with its “RaiseBore Safety Blue” colour palette. RaiseBore’s new website is smooth and strong, with a wealth of useful information regarding services and company information to assist clients in getting to know “The RaiseBore Family”. As Australia’s largest, privately-owned raiseboring company, RaiseBore focuses on four core areas of business: pilot drilling, conventional raiseboring, box-holing or up-reaming, and down-reaming. It is the only company to have a dedicated ‘slot hole’ division, with five low-profile, easily manoeuvrable rigs capable of down-reaming as well as conventional reaming. Each process offers a specific solution to a client’s needs, making RaiseBore a dynamic onestop answer for all raiseboring jobs. RaiseBore’s fleet of machines is one of Australia’s largest. RaiseBore currently offers a minimum of four machines for all sizes of raiseboring up to and including 3.0 metres in diameter, and two units capable of 5.0 metre shafts. With a total of eleven machines, the fleet is large enough to ensure that in emergency measures, back up equipment is available. This is an important offering to clients, meaning that every project is completed on time and to budget. Overall, considering all of its work in New Zealand, Vietnam, Portugal, Hong Kong, West Africa, India, and all states of Australia, RaiseBore has reamed in excess of 98,000 metres of shafts having a total in situ rock volume of in excess of 576,000 cubic metres.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


Overall, considering all of its work in New Zealand, Vietnam, Portugal, Hong Kong, West Africa, India, and all states of Australia, RaiseBore has reamed in excess of 98,000 metres of shafts having a total in situ rock volume of in excess of 576,000 cubic metres. Locally, RaiseBore has supplied services and has been an integral part of some of Australia’s largest expansion projects such as the “Olympic Dam Expansion Project,” the “Cannington Mine Growth Project,” and the “CSA Number 1 Shaft and Ventilation Upgrade”. Through extreme attention to critical details and the use of its cutting-edge equipment, RaiseBore also managed and raisebored the now world-famous, “Beaconsfield Mine Rescue.” In addition to its metalliferous and hard rock raiseboring, RaiseBore also provides services in the coal industry, with extensive experience in the New South Wales and Queensland coalfields. As the only specialist raiseboring contractor in Australia which operates and maintains flame proof equipment for uses in underground seam to seam drilling, RaiseBore’s extensive


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

fleet of equipment is able to ream holes from 0.6 metres to 5.5 metres in diameter. With two machines capable of completing both up reamed and down reamed shafts, RaiseBore successfully eliminates the need to access both levels. RaiseBore has shown a consistent history of continuously innovating and rising to meet and surpass the highest requirements and standards in the coal mining industry. RaiseBore has had extensive experience in coal with work completed at Wyee Colliery, Cordeaux Colliery, Tower Colliery, Austar Colliery, Newpac Colliery, Nardell Colliery and Abel Colliery in New South Wales. It has also completed shafts in the Bowen Basin at Southern Colliery, Central Colliery/German Creek, and Grasstree Colliery in Queensland, Australia.

Within the civil construction industry, RaiseBore has been involved in several projects across Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Portugal, Vietnam and India. Backed by its considerable specialist experience, RaiseBore is able to adapt its services for a variety of civil applications such as shafts for hydroelectric plants, underground gas storage facilities, egress and underground elevator shafts, and exhausts for subway or motorway tunnels. Its qualified team of specialists work together with construction companies to identify potential problems and provide risk mitigation procedures by adapting its strict safety, environmental and procedure protocols to the civil construction industry. RaiseBore has had extensive experience in environmentally sensitive areas and has completed major projects in the township of Beaconsfield, Metropolitan Sydney, the Tower Colliery at Ap-

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


pin, and has installed both major surface raises at Ridgeway, calling for a high level of environmental sensitivity. “The Proprietors of RaiseBore originate from the famous regional centre of Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. As such they know all too well the impact that a large corporation can have on a local community, and this personal experience is certainly not lost.� The procedures for noise control and the containment of hydrocarbons developed by RaiseBore are considered to be the most advanced in the industry. When called upon to raisebore a two hundred metre deep shaft from a jetty located in the centre of Avon Dam Reservoir, Woolongong’s major water supply, RaiseBore was able to do this in compliance with all EPA requirements, demonstrating its excellence in this area.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Like most companies, RaiseBore has its own unique culture within the workplace and the communities in which it operates. RaiseBore likes to call its collection of core beliefs and val-

ues, “The RaiseBore Family Values.” At its centre, the RaiseBore culture is focused on creating and maintaining a zero-harm workplace, placing safety above all else; RaiseBore feels it has

a duty to each other and to its key stakeholders to ensure this on each and every project. Some of the more unique components of RaiseBore’s “Family Values” include a commitment to iden-

A Few of RaiseBore’s Innovations ● Introduced the concept of down-reaming to the Australian market place in 1992. ● Developed up-hole raiseboring to the Australian market place in 1994. ● Developed the only ‘intrinsically safe’ raiseborer for operation underground in coal mines in 1996. ● Developed a methane monitoring system, which measures the methane content in the air directly at the reamer head, by vacuum monitoring via the drill string. ● Developed a technique to dewater a mine which had water inflow of 300 litres a second (not a misprint, 300 litres a second!). ● Developed low angle slot raises at 35 degrees, to suit shanty backs. ● Introduced a technique to minimise ‘dropping

of reamers’ by installing a certified steel rope into the drill string, known as a ‘catch rope’. ● Introduced an alarm system to identify a crack propagating in the drill string by filling the drill string with pressurised fluid. ● Retrieved an 8 cubic metre loader that had fallen into an open stope by using a raiseborer as a crane. ● Changed cutters on a reamer that was unable to be lowered by down-reaming an access shaft to intersect the jammed reamer. ● Set up on a jetty and drilled through a lake 30 metres deep with use of caissons to form a penstock. ● Excavated a one metre diameter horizontal tunnel which was used for the rescue of trapped miners in Beaconsfield Mine. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


RaiseBore has had extensive experience in environmentally sensitive areas and has completed major projects in the township of Beaconsfield, Metropolitan Sydney, the Tower Colliery at Appin, and has installed both major surface raises at Ridgeway, calling for a high level of environmental sensitivity.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

tifying talent and aligning it to particular tasks, celebrating the completion of difficult tasks, and maintaining an open dialogue with all stakeholders by encouraging team members to “own their jobs” and leverage their experience to surpass their objectives. RaiseBore also has a strong presence in each of its operations communities, often getting involved through donations and volunteerism. Throughout its expansion, RaiseBore has been wise to maintain key client relationships, valuing loyalty and nurturing some relationships for over two decades. With its recent shift into a truly international stage and its continued emphasis on innovation and its “Family Values”, RaiseBore is set to enter the next era of progress. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


-By Aleisha Parr


Australia is best known globally for its mining technology, although it might not be wellknown publicly,� reports Mark Warren, CEO of Austmine, in a recent interview. Accounting for over $10 billion in exports annually, Australia’s MTS sector is an extraordinarily important market, even stronger than that of its wine exports. Providing approximately six hundred thousand jobs in Australia, this sector even outruns the mining labour sector, which employs one hundred and fifty thousand workers. With numbers like these, it is clear that this sector is one which


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

requires strong support, guidance, and inspiration to maintain and increase its vigour. To that end, Austmine is proud to provide its members with those services. Created in 1989 by the Australian Trade commission with the directive of assisting mining companies to begin exporting their technology and services, Austmine was soon privatised as a not-for-profit organization. This move greatly helped the organization to properly service its members and garner international recogni-

tion. At the time, exports on mining technology and services were close to $500 million. Now, thanks to the innovative talents of Australian mining companies and the support and resources of organisations such as Austmine, exports are exceeding $10 billion. “We are currently in a period right now, after the GFC, which we decided to call the Age of Mining Technology, because before the GFC, the mining boom was uncontrolled . . . But if you want to succeed, you need to innovate, so

it’s all about smart mining technology now in Australia.� Representing one hundred and ten member companies from across Australia, each specialising in an area of mining technology and service, Austmine demonstrates to the world that Australia is home to some of the strongest innovators in mining technology. By providing networking and advancement opportunities for its members while sharing research findings and industry information into thriving international Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


As part of its latest strategy initiative, Austmine is focusing on new ma

its members, and is currently promoting lucrative mining markets inclu Sub-Saharan Africa.

markets, Austmine is also an extraordinary platform for professional achievement within the Australian mining industry. Austmine offers its members a variety of services aimed at promoting Australian mining capabilities to the export market. Additionally, the organisation provides its members with opportunities to network and connect with others in the field. Although some of Austmine’s members are large multi-nationals, most are small to medium enterprises. By providing a website with a plethora of industry resources and information sources as well as a Members Directory and advertisement opportunities, Austmine helps even the smallest of mining technology companies to get into the game with the important players. “Given that the mining boom continues,” says Mr Warren, “our members will have the oppor-


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

tunity to grow themselves, helping them to become self-sufficient organisations.” With technology advancing at such a rapid pace in Australia, Austmine strives to stay on the cutting edge. At present, it has been working with Quadren, a company in Brisbane, which offers an e-business procurement platform for use between buyers and sellers. While Austmine doesn’t directly sell for its members, it does assist them in marketing and promoting themselves within the industry and also in navigating the challenges and opportunities associated with e-business. With an average of eight to ten events offered each year, Austmine also helps to bring its members the necessary information and opportunities for them to succeed. Each event offers a keynote address presented by an outside company as well as a member presentation. The

for this conference, with between twenty and thirty countries represented in the exhibition.

arkets offering opportunities for

uding South America, Asia and

keynotes are invaluable in helping to educate Australian companies in the nuances and tricks of the trade of outside marketplaces – information which could help these companies to enter into the new and thriving markets. These events afford Austmine’s members the unique opportunity to network with peers, sponsors, presenters and Board members to increase their connections and enhance their visibility within the marketplace. Austmine was influential in developing the National Infrastructure and Engineering Forum (NIEF), and will soon be hosting the Austmine 2011 Conference and Exhibition, its premier event within the sector. This event draws a broad audience of high level executives from the international mining arena and will showcase innovations in Australia’s mining technology and services industry. Austmine expects to host approximately three hundred and fifty delegates

The Austmine Board of Directors is committed to fostering relations with outside markets and optimising Australia’s abilities to respond to those markets’ needs. The Board regularly liaises with alliance partners such as the Australian Traffic Commission, Government departments, mining councils and foreign agencies in order to provide the latest information and recommendations to its members. Furthermore, Austmine frequently provides its members with opportunities to attend outside events, including an upcoming mining expo in Moscow in April and a mining exploration event in June in Brazil. These efforts not only benefit individual Australian delegates, but also help to promote Australia as a whole in the global marketplace. As part of its latest strategy initiative, Austmine is focusing on new markets offering opportunities for its members, and is currently promoting lucrative mining markets including South America, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. South America has been an exciting market for Australians to enter over the past three to four years, and has been quite lucrative for many local companies. In particular, there is a significant presence of Australian companies operating in Chile. Based on strong relationships nurtured by the recent Free Trade Agreement signed last year, this market has an array of large mines and offers an excellent platform for Australians entering South American markets. “Certainly, we lead the world in terms of innovation and diversity of mining technology services,” explains Mr Warren. “What Austmine is about is making Australia the number one supplier of mining equipment in the world, because we are simply the best.” Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



ith the onset of the GFC, many contractors in Australia scrambled to create a strategy which would help them weather the storm. For Alliance Contracting, that meant not just to secure the basics, but to expand its capabilities and diversify its offerings in order to face the GFC head on and continue to provide for its clients the appropriate solutions for every project. “Overnight we went from a million dollars into zero. We diversified throughout the GFC, so


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

that’s how we’ve ended up now, covering all these different commodities. The GFC, in some ways, made us look at other alternatives in the industry and now we’re about to go through a growth stage.” From its modest start in 1999 through to its thriving current developments as a diversified contracting company, Alliance Contracting has garnered great respect throughout the industry for its down-to-earth, hard-working approach and its strong ethical and honest reputation.

-By Aleisha Parr

Alliance Contracting is a privately owned Perth company with depots located in South West, Port Hedland and Karratha, and is actively managed by its Founding Directors, allowing for swift project development and completion and a high degree of personalisation for each project’s requirements. Specialising in Civil Construction and Contract Mining, Alliance delivers a broad range of construction, earthmoving, and equipment hire services throughout Western Australia. It also

offers a variety of contract mining and project management services. While Alliance’s standard approach is to offer hard work and reliable labour, perhaps its strongest skill is in providing intelligent solutions to its clients’ evolving needs. Alliance Contracting has amassed an extensive fleet of machines, each developed with the client’s requirements in mind and maintained by fully trained and certified trade personnel. Alliance Contracting is able to offer a dedicated

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

“The GFC, in some ways, made us look at other alternatives in the industry and now we’re about to go through a growth stage.” fleet of equipment for each job, enabling maximum productivity, and boasts an ongoing renewal program in order to offer the most up-todate equipment in the industry. “We’ve been third party accredited, plus we’re taking that one step further where every time we purchase a piece of equipment or have a piece of equipment manufactured for a particular task, we’re really thinking about what should be taken into consideration for the environment.” An example of Alliance’s cutting-edge innovation can be seen in the development of some of its latest equipment, including its Service and Water trucks, respectively. “We’ve designed a service truck in a manner that takes the environment into consideration; it’s about reducing the amount of contamiAustralian Resource Focus | December 2010


WesTrac, is proud to support Alliance Contracting. WesTrac are honoured to continue their involvement with Alliance Contracting. With a close association for over 8 years, WesTrac has supported Alliance Contracting by supplying and monitoring their fleet needs. Through our oil sampling service we are able to monitor their machines health to keep their fleet running.

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December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

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From assisting with fleet selection, to maintenance and parts support, we strive to provide the best possible support to so they can achieve optimum performance. WesTrac looks forward to strengthening our relationship in the years to come.

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nants. We designed it so that one when you deliver oil you’re not introducing dust into the equipment, but it also reduces the opportunity for dust and oil to actually fall on the ground, so it reduces contaminants in two ways,” Mark Breingan, CEO, explains. The truck has also been designed to contain and evacuate any potential spill into a waste oil tank. “And it’s also about complying to our clients requests,” adds Breingan. “What we’re trying to do is reduce the likelihood of actually having an oil spill. What we have done is design our Management System, which is about policy and procedure, but . . . we’ve taken that a step further, we’ve actually taken that and designed our equipment so that we’re putting our money where our mouth is.” The innovation doesn’t stop there. Alliance prides itself on reliable, hard-working staff to support each project, and that has been greatly enabled by the creation of the Alliance Integrated Management System (AIMS), a purpose-built system of management which is fully integrated across the board for each of Alliance’s job sites to ensure a consistent approach to each. AIMS works to prescribe how employees undertake, monitor and record their work, and is deemed by the Alliance Construction management team to be essential to the success of project implementation, review and improvements, and client and third party audits. AIMS is certified in accordance with ISO 9001 for Quality, AS 4801 for Safety and ISO 14001 for Environment. “What it’s been able to do for us is it’s given us one system to work under. It’s available to all our employees, and we’ve been third party accredited in that system, so we’ve achieved our quality certification, safety certification and environmental [certification]. And what it’s done for our company is it’s opened up our client base . . . because we have a system we can

Alliance is committed to implementing, maintaining and improving AIMS to achieve its stated five objectives: Safety To provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees, subcontractors, our clients’ workforce and the broader public who from time to time enter such working environments. Quality To make certain of our clients satisfaction by delivering outcomes that meet or exceed their expectations. Environment To show the utmost respect towards environmental issues with a key focus on ensuring least impact best practices. Culture To provide a working environment that facilitates the development, well being and positive morale of all employees and subcontractors. Profit To maximize shareholder wealth and company growth through efficient and ethical means. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


sell to our clients. A lot of our clients are blue chip, and we work directly for them . . . We’ve achieved a standard of operation that’s acceptable to these blue chip type companies.” Supporting this program, Alliance Contracting has developed systems to manage and monitor project outcomes, equipment performance, documents and work flows. Through the consistent monitoring, analysing, and improving of all work environments which this allows, Alliance is able to provide each of its two hundred plus workers in the field with the training, knowledge and support that will ensure both career and personal growth. Says Business Development Director, Ian Phippard: “Not only is it about an investment in our equipment, but it’s also about investing in our people across our company, from the people who work here in head office through to the people who work onsite. Most of our expertise is in the field and


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

“We’ve been third party accredited, plus we’re taking that one step further where every time we purchase a piece of equipment or have a piece of equipment manufactured for a particular task, we’re really thinking about what should be taken into consideration for the environment.”

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Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


that’s where you need it.” Alliance Contracting’s current and completed projects include civil works for FMG, Rio Tinto, Woodside, Decmil, CB&I, Moly Mines and Worley Parsons, and mining works at Whim Creek for Straits Resources, Integra Mining Ltd – Randalls Gold Project, Boddington Gold Mine for

Newmont and Trial Mining for FMG. Other clients include BGC Contracting, John Holland, Mermaid Marine, Mega Uranium, BHP Billiton and Newcrest Mining. The Randalls Gold Project is one of Alliance Contracting’s highest profile jobs, worth approximately one hundred million dollars over a three year contract. It is an open cut mining project including drill and blast

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December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

and load and haul services. The Pluto LNG Project with Woodside is one of Alliance Contracting’s most complex and dynamic projects at present, offering up to ten distinct projects per day for the team of seventy specialist personnel. As one of Australia’s largest investments, this project includes such tasks as trenching and trench backfill, road construction, and minor concrete civil works. The work Alliance Contracting had completed to date on the project impressed Forsythe, leading them to award Alliance with a further project. The future, indeed, looks bright for the contracting company with its down-to-earth nature and innovative approach to customer care. “There are so many new ideas out there,” says Breingan excitedly, “so many new initiatives that people are coming up with all the time and we’re continuously looking at them at how we can incorporate them into what we’re currently doing . . . We’re looking forward to further growth, steady, steady.”

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


-By John Boley

AlphaBlast is a privately owned and operated West Australian company specialising in the provision of ultra high pressure water jetting, abrasive blasting and surface protection. As of December 2010, AlphaBlast’s position within its parent organisation has changed. The Orontide Group has four other subsidiaries – Madco, Madco Marine, Robil Engineering and Wovodich Engineering – all of which operate in a similar sector of engineering and fabrication, while Orontide Industrial Services (formerly called AlphaBlast) comes under the heading of ‘industrial services’. And as general manager


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Kim Twiggs explains, that’s the division he now heads. “Five separate companies within Orontide have been realigned to form two business streams of which Industrial Services is one. Everyone knows us as AlphaBlast, so we have an education job ahead of us – the company has built up a very healthy brand in the last three years. It’s business as usual for us – the change doesn’t affect our quality or the service provision, but it does allow us to bring in a greater skill set” because it’s now easier to call on other skills within the group.

Mr Twiggs now has an extra responsibility for ‘integrated services’ – spotting where there is an overlap for related services within the group. “That’s about being able to understand when you need to talk to someone from a package respect, in terms of being able to provide a more varied scope of services integrated as a seamless package rather than a single discipline. I am able to take clients through the full spectrum of a project – from design through to fabrication to hookup and installation work and then eventually into life-cycle maintenance (which is central to the AlphaBlast business), preservation and integrity-based activities.” However, Mr Twiggs

stresses the need to be aware of when a client wants a full package and when it wants just a single service. “What you’re selling at the end of the day is convenience.” The Orontide Group had its beginnings in 1979 as a family business run by Serge and Sophie Madrigali. The first operation was Madco, based at Henderson, south of Perth. Madco was originally focused on Serge’s machinist skills but soon evolved to provide maintenance and repair services to a wide range of industries. In 2002, Madco opened a Kalgoorlie branch to better serve mining industry clients in the area. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


In the same year, Madco Marine was formed to deliver specialist services to the marine and defence industries. Soon after, Orontide purchased Blast Works which was later developed into AlphaBlast.

(Woolloomooloo, Sydney), and purchased its first ultra high pressure water equipment, complemented by a full vacuum recovery system that provides an environmentally acceptable method of coatings removal.

In 2004 the company established divisions of AlphaBlast and Madco Marine in Sydney to work primarily on naval vessel refits at Garden Island

UHP water jetting “is one of those things that is considered environmentally very friendly – for example, we do a lot of coatings remediation


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

that contains lead.” This is carried out using vacuum recovery to ensure there is no release of coatings into the environment. “We do this in situ offshore, and for the navy on the hulls of ships in Sydney harbour.” Does Orontide Industrial Services consider itself a leader in the field? “Yes we do,” says Mr Twiggs. “We have a number of systems and approaches as well as equipment – there’s a huge environmental consideration. The equipment that we have, we spent a long time especially on the UHP side, evaluating where we could find the best equipment and we ended up going to the UK after our research. We buy our hardware – pumps et cetera – from the UK but we get it built to Australian (as well as international) standards and it’s well known to be the safest machinery currently available here.” He believes no competitor has yet gone that far. “I think our customers consider us to be lead-

ing in what we do, based on the many unsolicited testimonials they send us.” Machinery is not off-the-shelf. The base components are more or less standard but Orontide Industrial Services “puts a lot of IP back into the machinery – we found the nearest to what we wanted and tweaked it to our own specification. Over the years we have found better ways to package things – that’s one of the advantages of having an engineering support resource” as part of the group. The company has an operational unit that focuses on the naval and defence industry sector on the east coast and in 2009 incorporated a subsidiary company in Singapore; it has further and growing interests in Vietnam and in Malaysia. “Oil and gas is the catalyst. The strategy is simple – piggybacking on clients in this market who have facilities they can uproot and take off to other parts – that’s what led us to Vietnam,

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


for example.” Oil and gas accounts for approximately 70 percent of business volume while the naval side is about 20 percent and the remainder is made up of commercial and mining projects. “We are relatively new to the mining sec-


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

tor,” says Mr Twiggs, “but growing”, not least via contacts obtained from within other parts of the Orontide Group. There is a lot of repeat business. “Let’s face it,

UHP Water Jetting

Water is a cost effective and environmentally efficient medium for the removal of coatings, hard deposits and rust scale. Orontide owns and operates a large and diverse inventory for undertaking such activities. The equipment is specifically designed to achieve optimum performance in the field and offers significant benefits to safety, quality, reliability and ease of operation with minimal interference to the work activities of others in adjacent areas. The fleet of containerised pumps and vacuum recovery units are available in varying weight and efficiency configurations and is positioned to be provided as Australian content. All Orontide units are hazardous zoned to both European and Australian standards and include the following distinct features: • 3,000 bar/ 43,500 PSI rated • fully compliant to ATEX 94/9/EC • all electrical equipment IECEx and AUS Ex rated • self contained and reduced footprint sized • DNV rated for offshore use • equipped with five point rope lifting system • noise rated to 85dba @ 1 metre • comprehensive controls in place Orontide owns and operates a range of semi-automated and automated systems which are equipped with innovative features to enable compliance with the evolving demands for increased productivity, safe practice and stringent environmental control. The SRT-6 VertaJet is a lightweight hand-held system for vertical and horizontal movement, the SRT-10 Crawler is a remotely operated crawler for vertical surfaces and the Vortex Deck Mower puts a powerful removal action on wheels. for every good job you do, there’s usually another one waiting. The balance is probably on the order of 60-40 repeat-new [business].” The company also gets many referrals; “when you’re on site doing a job it’s a fantastic oppor-

tunity to market yourself through your productivity.” Orontide Group now totals some 300 personnel, adds Mr Twiggs. “It’s a home-grown Western Australian company, we’re still privately owned - and the future is bright!” Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


- By Jaime McKee


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus


ining, in Australia and abroad, is an industry fraught with disagreement, competing interests and myriad issues. Unfortunately, these issues do not simply vanish with a mine’s closure. Many, in fact, only become apparent – or grow increasingly problematic - once the mine has been shut down. Communities may be left to deal with employment losses or relocation, while the physical environment may be left reeling from the disruption to its natural systems. While resource mining clearly represents a key element of Australia’s future growth, it remains critical to examine the environmental, economic, and social implications of mine closure. The Minerals Council of Australia states that the objective for mine closure is “to leave sites in a condition which is safe, stable, and limits further environmental impacts so that mining tenements can be relinquished for alternative land use.” Effective planning for the closure of a mine must, in the Council’s eyes, permeate the whole of the mine’s life cycle, and be woven into the plans, operations and budgets of any responsible company. Taking into account such factors as environmental and economic assessment, land and water rehabilitation, management of flora and fauna, removal of mine infrastructure, and the formation of post-mining landforms, planning for mine closure must encompass a holistic approach, “such that economic, environmental

and social considerations are integrated into decision making and management.”

Planning for Closure

In practical terms, this means that many of Australia’s top mining companies make it a priority to manage the full and proper closure of the mine and to take responsibility for the ecological reclamation of the land once mining operations have ceased. From the prefeasibility stages, companies allocate sufficient resources to finance the closure process, and upon decommissioning, put their closure plans into action and carefully monitor the effectiveness thereof. A closure and reclamation plan for any mine is site-specific, and should address every component of the mine and affected area, from structures to roads, airstrips to tailings disposals, open pits to pipelines. Closure plans should also be flexible and adaptable to new techniques and technological developments that may come up in the mine’s lifetime; as part of an evolving and very high-tech industry, it is critical that mining firms continually examine best practices and work to incorporate them into their own plans.

Impacts on the Community

Mining generally, and the mine closure process particularly, can have an enormous impact on communities. While top Australian firms make it Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


their duty to consult with Aboriginal and other affected communities, it is certainly in the interests of the community itself to conduct its own research on the mine’s proposed closure plans, and to make its voice heard during the consultation process. Community members affected by the closure of a mine include direct employees and their families, as well as other vendors, suppliers, owners and workers employed in peripheral industries. Members of the community as a whole are also affected by the environmental impacts of reclamation, and by the trickle-down social and economic impacts of closure. Resource extraction operations, as a rule, are short-term, cyclical, and strongly tied to commodity prices. Ore bodies are depleted quickly, and even before this occurs, a mine may be shut down or suspended due to other factors, resulting in sudden and significant loss of employment. Mines tend to bring with them peripheral employment opportunities, with new shops, housing, infrastructure, and services springing up around them; when the mine shuts down, many of these peripheral workers may similarly be out of a job, and entire communities can suffer. The massive loss of employment resulting from mine closure can engender feelings of disempowerment, a decrease in community capacity, depression, family and marital strife, even substance abuse and violence. Temporary workers will simply leave the site upon closure, often greatly impacting the local population, while, for communities who may not have wanted a mine in the first place, its closure can foster feelings of lingering resentment. Conversely, a well-thought out life-cycle plan can make accommodation for these factors, and the increased development left behind can actually strengthen communities as they are able to make use of the new amenities. Socially aware


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

companies such as Metals X Limited and Marengo Mining Limited acknowledge these disparate realities and place a significant emphasis upon community consultation and stakeholder engagement. They focus on ensuring that their efforts are desired by the communities in which they operate, and on producing the best possible outcomes both throughout the mining process and following closure. As stated by the International Council on Mining and Metals, it is key to “[formulate] with stakeholders a balanced, realistic and achievable closure outcome that can be funded and supported by the relevant parties”, and many Australian firms make it their mission to excel in this area.

Impacts on the Environment

Of course, while communities may stand to benefit from the roads, power lines, airstrips, and housing developments that are left behind when a mine closes its doors, they cannot ignore concerns over what else may be left behind following a closure. Abandoned, “orphaned” and contaminated sites pose a significant risk to the natural environment, and waterways - often forming the lifeblood of a community or region - are especially vulnerable. Tailings containment structures may be subject to seeping, leaking, cracks, cross-contamination or collapse over time, while blatant physical hazards such as open pits, shafts and trenches, unstable rock piles and slag slopes, dam collapses, abandoned and degraded roads, and ground subsidences, may pose more immediate risks to the surrounding environment.

It should also be noted that, simply due to the nature of many mining processes, some effects unfortunately become greater problems, rather than lesser ones, with time. Insidious ecological hazards such as acid mine drainage, heavy metal contamination, destruction of fish and wildlife habitats, bioaccumulation of toxins in flora and fauna, and depletion of the water table, can all be unintended by-products of the mining process whose impacts are felt for decades to come. Fortunately, innovative firms such as Rio Tinto Coal Australia (RTCA) and Mine Closure Australia are working hard to incorporate these environmental outcomes into their plans. In conjunction with Sinclair Knight Merz, RTCA was responsible for developing 3D Analysis and Visualisation Tools to support the communication of proposed mine closure outcomes to government authorities, external stakeholders and local communities. The project utilised a “Visual Spatial Hub” to bring together data from designers, mine planners and environmental scientists to allow critical evaluation of proposed mine closure outcomes in a virtual 3D environment, using the Hunter Valley South Operations to test the methodology. Mine Closure Australia, a partner-

ship of three leading companies - Outback Ecology, Ross’s Auctioneers and Valuers, and C.D. Dodd Scrap Metal Recyclers - strives to develop closure plans using specialty software “aimed at making mine closure a dynamic and continuous process”, and has put its skills to work on such projects as the Bow River Diamond Mine and the Mt McClure Gold Project.

Looking Ahead

It is arguable whether one can ever truly claim mining to be “sustainable”. It is, necessarily, an invasive, intensive process. Put quite simply, mining projects are big; large-scale operations with often far-reaching impacts, they have the potential to cause considerable damage. The issues surrounding their closure are likewise of tremendous significance, and, while not necessarily insurmountable, cannot be brushed aside or ignored. While the industry is constantly changing, evolving to reflect greater community and environmental awareness and improvements in available technology, there is still a great deal of room for innovative companies to take the lead with creative solutions for responsible closure. Done right, however, resource mining can play a key role in the creation of jobs, the development of infrastructure, and the growth of the national economy. It is heartening to know that, in such a challenging and demanding field, many of Australia’s firms are at the forefront of the movement towards responsible mine closure, and that the sector here is likely to see ever more sustainable outcomes in the years to come.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



n the mining and resource sectors, it is critical that companies combine world-class expertise with local knowledge. A global provider of professional technical and management support services, AECOM operates on the world stage, yet focuses on partnering with clients to meet their specific needs. With approximately 51,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets it serves, combining global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence to service the transport, facilities, environmental, energy, water and gov-


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

ernment sectors. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 100 countries and had revenue of US$6.3 billion during the year to June 30, 2010. In Australia, AECOM’s business is split fairly evenly across each of several distinct business lines, explains Laurie Barlow, Managing Director of Mining for Australia and New Zealand. “Our focus is on delivering infrastructure to the market place, which includes government infrastructure, infrastructure for mining projects, and we

-By John Boley

also provide a range of environmental services. Sectors we serve include transport, power, buildings, mining, environment and architecture. So we reflect the global AECOM services within the ANZ region.” Mining is “certainly a significant part of the AECOM business in Australia. We try to bring all the services AECOM offers to the mining sector, and that's where we see the AECOM advantage – there's not much in our portfolio of services that we can't provide to our mining clients.”

In Australia and New Zealand, AECOM has more than 3,800 staff at over 20 offices. The company's recent work includes some of the region’s most iconic projects, such as the multi award-winning Inner Northern Busway Alliance (Queensland), the Rosedale Water Treatment Plant Outfall Project (Auckland), and Telfer Deeps Gold Mine (Western Australia). Over the last 12-18 months AECOM has gone through a significant global rebranding, says Mr Barlow, “where a lot of the operating companies Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


Current and recent AECOM projects include: AECOM provided engineering design, Telfer Deeps Gold Mine supply and installation documentation and procurement services for the fixed plant as part of the mine expansion. Telfer Deeps is a major expansion of a brownfield site in the east Pilbara region of Western Australia. On the surface of the mine, AECOM is engineering the headframe and sky shaft for the hoist, overland transfer conveyor, main mine ventilation fans and the dewatering of the main open cut pit as well as providing the engineering and design for the underground power reticulation, supervisory control And data acquisition (SCADA), fibre optic cabling and communications systems. The fixed plant included a ground mounted friction winder, underground run-of-mine crusher station, extensive underground water management systems and associated ancillary infrastructure. AECOM continued providing engineering support during the installation, construction and commissioning phases of the project. Garnaut Climate Change Review

An independent study examining the potential impacts and responses to climate change in Australia. AECOM provided climate change risk assessment services to identify and assess potential impacts across infrastructure in buildings in coastal settlements, electricity distribution and transmission networks, water supply in major cities and port infrastructure and operations.

AECOM’s mechanical, electrical and hydraulic teams delivered WA’s first 6-star building. 2 Victoria Avenue is a four-storey, 7,000sqm office building for the Australian Defence Force. AECOM managed and coordinated specialists to incorporate environmental and sustainability features including three 2 Victoria Avenue wind turbines on the roof, active chilled beam air conditioning, fully automated operable louvres to protect the western facade from solar radiation load, grey water treatment plant for recycling of shower and hand-basin water, and waterless urinals. 15 percent of the building’s power will be from renewable energy sources. Recycled steel and timber were used in construction.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

have now changed from their legacy names to adopt the AECOM logo and culture. So we are now seen as one company across the globe, one brand, a consistent message and a consistent offering to the marketplace. Fully integrated services and we are really focused on our clients, asking 'how can we bring the best of our global offerings to our clients?'.” Mining is an emerging business within AECOM, which is starting to roll out the full power of the organisation in the sector around the world. “Major mining companies are recognising the capability we have in delivering mega-projects in remote parts of the world. That's a differentiator that AECOM can bring to the marketplace. My role is to manage and grow the business within Australia. [But] the mining sector does not operate on a regional basis, it's a truly global industry.” The job in hand is to penetrate the global mining sector because the clients are all massive

multinational companies. “Currently we are working on a number of port and marine projects in Western Australia; on the east coast on a number of coal projects, in both Queensland and New South Wales; and we are working on some large copper projects in Queensland, all with major resource companies.” AECOM works within the client's framework for environmental approvals, but Mr Barlow explains that “we have a very strong focus on sustainability – especially in the mining sector, sustainability in terms of energy efficiency, for example, or community consultation. When we start a project we are looking at how we close it, we are looking at the total project life cycle and how we bring environmental, sustainability and heritage solutions to these projects. We are finding that our clients are really looking for that

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


smart input at the start of projects that can be carried through.”

that this has proven to be a significant change of emphasis for many companies.

Clients are increasingly keen to apply sustainability concepts and AECOM can look across its worldwide portfolio to bring global best practice experience to a local project. “It's going beyond what they need to include from a legislative perspective. They are looking for their own social 'licence to operate' and to be good corporate citizens in the region. In many cases they are going beyond what might be expected of large mining companies and we are helping them to achieve that – e.g. a construction or accommodation village where they are looking to really attract high-class workers, looking at bringing sustainable solutions and looking for villages that blend in with the environment.” Mr Barlow points out

Mr Barlow acknowledged that water is a major issue in Australia – “moving the water to the mining projects, water treatment, reuse, efficient dams and use of recycled water from dams, optimising the water balance on a mining project, etc. We look at natural water flows and how we baseline the existing environment. If we need to make changes to water flows – in terms of creek diversions or bridges or access roads, say – how do we minimise the impact on the environment?”


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Health and safety is another major part of AECOM's business. “In everything we do, from desktop studies through construction man-

In November 2010 AECOM acquired Davis Langdon, a global cost and project management consultancy firm, in South Africa, having already acquired its operations in Australia and New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East and the US. Davis Langdon provides cost and project management services, and specialist consultancy services, to clients around the world. Davis Langdon’s 2,800 employees serve public and privatesector clients in a variety of markets. The Davis Langdon transactions are valued in the aggregate at approximately US$324 million. Davis Langdon has worked on many high-profile projects around the world, including the Tate Modern and the Eden Project in the United Kingdom; Estadio do Dragao in Portugal; New Doha International Airport; Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo; the Clem Jones Tunnel (CLEM7) in Brisbane; the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco; the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link in Johannesburg, and the Green Point Stadium - newly built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - in Cape Town.

agement, safety is a major aspect. AECOM has a 'safety for life' strategy that cuts across the whole business. We adopt the clients' systems and merge the AECOM systems to come up with continuous improvement in terms of safety cultures for large projects.” Clients demand cost-efficiency, of course. “How do our clients save money in the delivery of their projects? AECOM has a very large business in China and we are able to leverage our Chinese presence to provide cost-efficient supply of equipment and bulk materials and also cost-efficient detail design services out of our Chinese design institute – we have a very large design institute in Shenzhen, a multi-discipline engineering and design office. Traditionally it has been used to service the Chinese or Hong

Kong market but certainly we are using it to service the mining sector in Australia and the Middle East and we are finding that the Chinese are providing a lot of young smart engineers that are very qualified to work in our sector.” Mr Barlow says it is important to strike a balance between what is to be done in China and what's done elsewhere: “It's about what's best for project outcomes.” AECOM is “a growing and emerging global player in the engineering and project management sector. We have come in the last 20 years from a number of smaller businesses and now that we have consolidated we aim to be leaders in every industry that we are involved in.” If anyone has a project or is looking for solutions, Mr Barlow says, “certainly it's worth giving AECOM a call.” Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus


ince it was first discovered by German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789, Uranium has become the stuff of legend. Named after the planet Uranus, uranium has many unique properties that allow it to be used for a number of applications, but remains best known today for its role in nuclear energy, fueling nuclear power plants worldwide. Unlike other sources of energy such as fossil fuels like oil and coal, uranium is an infinitely cleaner source of power. While some green energy initiatives like solar and wind power are on the horizon, they are still years away from being reliable sources of energy. “Uranium is really going to be used for power generation,” says Andrew Bell, Board and Management Chairman and CEO of Resource Star Ltd. “It’s the only solution to power generation in the future.” Under Mr Bell’s time-tested and experienced leadership, Resource Star Ltd is actively seeking uranium and uranium-related metals in Australia and Africa, lands that are open to new mining projects. As a publicly listed Australian company (ASX: RSL), Resource Star Ltd has interests in uranium-associated exploration assets in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Malawi. The challenge, says Mr Bell, is in the science; good geology is critical. As such, Resource Star’s employees and directors are top-notch, and bring a wide range of expertise to the company. Staff members have worked for companies such as Jupiter Mines Ltd, Anglo American, and DeBeers, with highly diverse backgrounds relevant to the field: everything from geology, mining and minAustralian Resource Focus | December 2010


eral exploration to management, broking and accounting. Resource Star Ltd was born from the ashes of Gowings, a department store chain in Sydney, which eventually closed the doors of its last store in 2006. In time, the shell of the company – which had been listed on retail boards – had some uranium assets put in, and was re-listed as a mining company. Formerly known as Retail Star Limited, the company name soon changed, and the firm was reborn as Resource Star Limited.

A republic in southeastern Africa, Malawi was the British protectorate of Nyasaland. Bounded by Tanzania, Lake Malawi (Lake Nyasa), Mozambique, and Zambia, it is a developing country, but in recent years has expressed strong support for mining. In 2010, Resource Star budgeted $680,000 for exploration in Australia, and $400,000 for exploration in Malawi, for a total of $1,080,000.

In the months since Resource Star relisted in March 2010, the company has been extremely proactive. In addition to consolidating a number of promising projects, it has delivered a maiden mineral resource at Livingstonia, confirmed heavy rare earth potential at Machinga, and significantly increased the prospective area held and under application. It has commenced drilling (or is imminent) on five projects, and the company has continued to review international and local opportunities to complement its portfolio.

Projects in Australia and Malawi

With its head office in Melbourne, Victoria, Resource Star Ltd is focusing its attention to key projects, including its Edith River Uranium Project in the Northern Territory. The company has also allied with Globe Metals & Mining for a joint venture on the Machinga Niobium-Rare Earths Project in Malawi. While Globe is managing the Machinga project with input from Resource Star, it is earning 20 per cent equity through exploration expenditure. In a staged process, Globe can earn up to 80 per cent in the project by funding all activity up to and including a feasibility study.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Decades of Business Expertise

For Mr Bell, the search for Uranium in Australia and Africa is a natural extension of his many years in the business world. Once he completed university, Mr Bell worked for a London bank, soon becoming an oil and mining analyst, a field in which he has been actively engaged since the 1970s. With a focus mainly on investing and financing, he has amassed extensive experience of international mining projects in both Europe and South-East Asia. He is nostalgic when speaking about his early business experiences. “I went to Japan years ago, at a time when few foreigners were investing in companies like Nin-

tendo,” he says. “It was still called Nintendo Playing Cards, and they were just starting to make electronic devices, a little hand-held thing called ‘Game and Watch,’ and I bought three per cent of the company for my clients.” In addition to becoming a video game pioneer, the company now known as Nintendo is Japan’s third most valuable listed company, with a market value of over $85 billion U.S.

“We’re not in the business of trying to get our stock price up with third-rate projects. We want to do really important things, and build up a proper company.” -Andrew Bell, Board and Management Chairman and CEO of Resource Star Ltd

As a Far East expert, Mr Bell soon realized the impact of the growth of China and India on commodities demand, owing to the world’s growing population and demand for goods. Once back in London, he re-entered the mining sector, and renewed his connections with others he knew from the mining community. “By pure luck, I got my timing exactly right, and the markets have taken off, and I haven’t looked back since,” says Mr Bell, who has been with Resource Star Ltd since August of 2007. Under Mr Bell, the company has built a solid team comprising of key staff with experience in geology, exploration management, chartered accounting, mineral exploration, and a

wide range of business positions. The key to success for Resource Star Ltd and its projects in Australia and Malawi, says Mr Bell, is twofold: accomplishing solid geophysics at the beginning, and having a first-class staff in place. Unlike the heads of some companies, Mr Bell doesn’t believe in the business of hype. “We’re not in the promotion business,” he states. “We’re not in the business of trying to get our stock price up with third-rate projects. We want to do really important things, and build up a proper company.” With exploration underway, Resource Star has seen positive results. Recently, the company defined radiometric targets at Ilomba Hill in Malawi, which is 90 per cent owned by the company. An airborne geophysical survey provided, for the first time, modern multi-method data, which has allowed Resource Star to identify new targets for ongoing exploration. Newly-defined features are radiometric anomalies within the alkali syenite intrusive, which will form the focus of ground exploration. The news is exciting, as the Ilomba Hill Project is a key part of Resource Star’s existing uranium and uranium-related specialty metals portfolio in East Africa and Australia. In recent weeks, the company announced that it has secured an option to acquire a highly prospective second near-surface uranium exploration program in Western Australia’s Yilgarn Uranium Province. After due diligence, including data reviews, the company may acquire 100 per cent of the project for $120,000 in cash and shares, with the potential to strengthen the company’s uranium portfolio. Whether in Australia or Africa, exciting exploration times are definitely ahead for the team at Resource Star. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus


ommitted to the success of its shareholders, Metals X recently undertook the process of re-capitalising its balance sheet. Already Australia’s largest producer of tin and owner of one of the world’s largest undeveloped nickel deposits, Metals X is now also a truly diversified resource company managing assets at all stages of development. From exploration through to production, Metals X has holdings in tin, nickel, gold, copper, zinc, phosphate, uranium, lead and tungsten.

Aside from its holdings in nickel and tin, Metals X’s selection of strategic investments include: Jabaru, Westgold Resources, Aragon and Agaton. Metals X’s diverse asset holdings allow it the flexibility required to fund and finance exploration activities in order to continue to achieve additional growth.

Tasmanian Tin

Currently, tin is Metals X’s most lucrative investment, aimed at creating shareholder value from the company’s assets and infrastructure in Tasmania. Tin is suffering from a global supply deficit, therefore demand is constantly increasing. This makes for a strong market, particularly for Metals X, with its recent developments at its Tasmanian Tin operations. Prices for tin have shown at a record high, which has accounted for a remarkable jump - approximately 30% - in Metals X’s shares since September.

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


These assets are held under a 50/50 joint venture formed last March with Yunnan Tin Parksong Australia Holdings Pty Ltd (the world’s largest tin producer, producing approximately 60,000 tpa of refined metal tin, or approximately 20% of the global market) within a wholly owned subsidiary company, Bluestone Mines Tasmania Pty Ltd (BMT). Included in these assets are the world-class Renison Bell Mine, the Renison Tin Concentrator, the Mt Bischoff Tin Project and the Renison Expansion Project Rentails - whereby Metals X hopes to add 19 thousand tonnes of tin production. This joint venture was entered by Metals X in an effort to provide security of concentrate sales as well as an exposure to new advancements in technology.


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Wingellina Nickel

Metals X’s second area of strength is its nickel assets. Nickel operates in a strong market for the same reasons as does tin. In particular, nickel production is fuelled by the recent demand for stainless steel products. In a landmark agreement with the Traditional Owners and granted Native Title holders of the Wingellina Project area through their representative bodies: the Yarnangu Ngaanyatjarraku Parna Aboriginal Corporation, the Ngaanyatjarra Land Council (Aboriginal Corporation), and the Ngaanyatjarra Council (Aboriginal Corporation), Metals X was recently provided consent for the grant of a mining lease and subsequent mining operations over the project. This agreement, while subject to other regulatory ap-

provals, allows the massive Wingellina NickelCobalt Limonite Project to be advanced toward production. While the details of the agreement remain confidential, Metals X has advised that the agreement includes cash payments as project milestones are met, a gross royalty interest, and employment and training initiatives for the local people, which is in line with similar agreements made in recent times. Boasts Metals X’s Managing Director, Warren Hallam, “This is a major milestone in the development of Wingellina and a momentous occasion for the Ngaanyatjarra People and the State of Western Australia. It reflects a willingness by the People to work together with mining companies in the development of resource projects providing commercial and financial benefits to

The Wingellina Project “is a major milestone in the development of Wingellina and a momentous occasion for the Ngaanyatjarra People and the State of Western Australia. It reflects a willingness by the People to work together with mining companies in the development of resource projects providing commercial and financial benefits to all stakeholders, whilst maintaining respect for the culture, beliefs and traditions of the Traditional Owners.” - Mr Warren Hallam, Managing Director, Metals X

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


Strategic Investments Westgold Resources Limited Metals X holds a 31.9% interest in this company, which owns a large portfolio of highly prospective tenements in the Tennant Creek region of the Norhtern Territory, referred to as “The Rover Project.” Westgold is focusing its attention primarily on two targets which have both resulted in the discovery of significant ore bodies and is continuing an active exploration program. Jabiru Metals Limited Metals X holds a 19.9% direct interest in this established base metals producer, which targets an annual production of 30,000t of Zinc and 10,000t of copper production from its Jaguar operations in Western Australia. The new Bentley Underground Mine is intended to supplement mine feed from the Jaguar Mine. The box cut has now been completed and development has commenced. The Jaguar and Bentley deposits are high grade VMS deposits and the operation is one of the world’s lowest cost zinc producers. all stakeholders, whilst maintaining respect for the culture, beliefs and traditions of the Traditional Owners.” The first mining agreement to be successfully negotiated in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and Aboriginal Reserves, it represents the diligent and respectful nature of continued relations fostered by Metals X in the area over the last five years. “We work really closely with the Aboriginal community. We offer employment where possible to the local community and we sponsor various activities associated with the Aborigines. We also provide accommodation for the people coming to that area . . . I think that the outcome of all of that is that we have progressed to a mining agreement with the Aborigines and this is the first mining agreement within those lands.” “That speaks for itself in regards to what our relationship is like within that area.” Metals X works together with the Traditional Elders as well as the Land Council who oversee the area to ensure that they have the same un-


December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

derstandings throughout the full construction process. “Consultation is a daily process. We have a permanent presence within the Wingellina area and its day to day relationships with the Traditional Owners within the area. We continually keep them informed about what our activities are and where we’re going. We respect their culture and their requirements.”

Corporate Responsibility

Additionally, Metals X works hard to ensure environmental responsibility, in particular, the recycling of oils. “Tasmania is quite a pristine environment,” explains Mr Hallam, “so we en-

Aragon Resources Limited Metals X holds an 8.72% direct interest and a 28.47% voting interest in this company, which holds a portfolio of gold, nickel, phosphate, tungsten and uranium assets in Australia. Aragons main focus is on the exploration of the large mining tenure in the Cue district of the Meekatharra-Mount Magnet Greenstone belt which includes the Big Bell, Cuddinwarra and DayDawn mining centres.. This represents a massive resource base and three well established mining centres in a gold belt that has already produced in the excess of 12 million ounces historically. Agaton Phosphate Pty Ltd In early 2008 Metals X established a 75% Metals X owned subsidiary company to acquire a 90% interest in the Agaton Phosphate Project. The remaining 10% owned by the Vendors All Classic Enterprises Pty Ltd and Bishop Exploration Pty Ltd being free carried to the completion of a feasibility study. The Project is located between the town of Moora and the Cooljaroo Mineral Sands areas approximately 120km north of Perth. Agaton is a phosphate sands project, with phosphate occurring as nodules and precipitates within sedimentation phases within the Dandaragan Trough. and knowledge on operating policies and procedures in all areas.” A key focus for Metals X in this area is to “create and maintain a culture in the workplace whereby employees, contractors and visitors have accountability for maintaining a safe work environment.”

sure that we monitor all of our discharge and we maintain a diligence on our rehabilitation.” Metals X believes that the best way to promote environmental responsibility is through developing workforce awareness of sound environmental practice; it “is not only a management obligation but the responsibility of every employee and contractor.” Health and Safety is also of high priority to Metals X. “It’s about ensuring each work area is safe,” explains Mr Hallam, “that workers can go to work in an environment that is safe for them and that they have the suitable training

Capitalising on global resource shortages and the abundance of Australian natural resources, Metals X has become one of the strongest resource companies in all of Australia, currently holding cash and receivables of over $53 million, and investments in other public listed entities of approximately $60 million (which includes 32% of Westgold Resources Limited, 19.9% of Jabiru Metals Limited, and direct and indirect interests in 28% of Aragon Resources Limited). What makes Metals X such a remarkable company, however, is not any one of these things, but rather, the efforts which have enabled them these accomplishments. Metals X has thrived in this industry not only due to its business acumen, but also because of its diligence and extraordinary approach to fostering community relations. Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

-By Aleisha Parr


ffering a broad range of services to the mining and civil sectors, PYBAR believes that the best way to succeed in the industry is to nurture meaningful relationships with both the client and the community involved in a given project. The results of this approach are clear—PYBAR is enjoying continuous growth and has developed an outstanding reputation for quality and commitment to excellence in the mining industry. “We push for more personal relationships . . . We like to understand [the clients’] needs and tailor our services to suit their requirements,”

explains Brendan Rouse, Director of Group Business Development and one of the four founding partners of this 17 year old company based in Orange, NSW. Though the company’s core focus is in underground hard-rock mining, they also provide numerous civil services including excavation, earthmoving and ground stabilisation, to name a few. Additionally, PYBAR offers an extensive range of underground and surface equipment for rent or purchase. Utilising a range of contract styles, PYBAR specialises in long-term projects generally requiring an evolution of services. Many of its contracts begin with small teams of Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

two or three people and, through recognising and fulfilling the clients’ needs, develop over the years into much larger projects, often coming full-circle through to completion. PYBAR works with the client throughout the entire life cycle of the project, adapting its own capabilities as required—a method which has resulted in rapid expansion. Working on contracts with Cadia Value Operations for over ten years now, PYBAR has employed more than three hundred workers to provide services on nearly every front including maintenance, mining, surface civil projects, and labour and equipment hire. Originally providing construction labour for Cadia’s first underground mine, it took more of a maintenance support role during the operational phase. Over the last few years, Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

its involvement has grown substantially, now providing equipment as well as labourers for surface work. The nature of the work has changed, but PYBAR’s commitment to its clients’ needs has not. Indeed, PYBAR’s devotion to excellence is broad, involving all aspects of operations and ensuring the highest standard of service to its clients. Vowing to deliver all projects with a minimal impact on the environment, PYBAR also places strong emphasis on fostering connections with the members of the community within which it operates. To this end, the company not only sources consumables and materials locally where possible, but also trains and hires many local labourers for each project. Additionally, PYBAR participates regularly in local charity events, mining expos and local Chambers of Commerce, helping to enhance its Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


relationship with each community. An example of this community involvement can be seen in PYBAR’s recent work at the Mt Isa Copper Mine in central western NSW. In this remote location, many of the people employed by PYBAR were hired directly from within the community. “We like to try and establish local relationships,” Rouse explains. “Creating strong local relationships is key to establishing long-term clients.” Mt Isa is a well established long-term mine which PYBAR has been working on for a number of years. Initially winning threemonth contracts, PYBAR gained trust and respect from the team at Mt Isa, and has since served in a number of dynamic roles for project management. This is an

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December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus



important project offering jobs for over a hundred labourers through PYBAR, who work alongside the mine’s own labourers. PYBAR’s focus on nurturing relationships and a sense of community involvement is reinforced by its standards for safety. Recognised for its strong safety record, PYBAR attributes that success to its Enterprise Management System (EMS), which it applies consistently throughout all operations. In addition to a set of principles which incorporate the requirements of AS/ NZS 4801 – OH&S Management Systems, PYBAR has also developed positive measures of safety performance, including Safety Effort Rating; Severity Rate; Client Audits; Hazard Identification Compliance; Job Safety Card Compliance; and Management Self Audits.


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December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

Another way in which PYBAR services the total needs of a client is by engaging in cooperative partnerships with other companies such as JT Electrical. PYBAR might provide the operational or management expertise, while the partner company provides its own unique services - in this case, electrical work. Partnerships such as this not only ensure cost effectiveness for the client, but they also have enabled PYBAR to successfully undertake larger projects. More recently, due to its rapid expansion, PYBAR has begun to win larger projects outright. Moving into Western Australia, with numerous projects spanning five sites, PYBAR is becoming a national force. Though the move west often proves a challenge for the Eastern state-based companies, PYBAR’s size and flexibility has ensured a smooth transition to Australian Resource Focus | December 2010



December 2010 | Australian Resource Focus

servicing this area and it has been well worth it for the dynamic mining company. With each successive development, the capabilities of this company are enhanced and future opportunities multiply. “There’s plenty of work . . . we’ve hit a record quarter,” Rouse reports with pride. “We’ve recovered fully from the GFC [Global Financial Crisis]. The company is bigger than what it was prior to the GFC and there’s still a lot of work that is potentially coming up in the next month. There’s a lot of opportunity.” With such a stellar combination of social and environmental responsibility, and a commitment to providing the highest quality service and cost effectiveness to all clients, it is easy to see how PYBAR has grown to become a leader in its field with such speed. As PYBAR continues to expand across the country, its dedication to fostering long term relationships is fundamental to

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Australian Resource Focus | December 2010


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