Report on Australian Trip, by Warwick Leach

With winning a trip through an Institute of Quarrying scholarship donated by Komatsu NZ to further my knowledge in the quarry industry, I decided to go to Sydney, Australia, with my brother Graham Leach.

Komatsu Australia took us to three quarry sites, one landfill, the M7 motorway construction project, as well as their Workshop and Parts Depots (located at Fairfield in Sydney).

Shell Harbour
Day one saw us head down to Shell Harbour, which is 20km south of Wollongong, all up about 110 km south of Sydney.

Bass Point Quarry
This quarry is part of the Pioneer Quarry group which is owned by Hansen, the world?s largest quarrying company.

Bass Point Quarry has yearly sales of over 2 million tonnes of aggregate. Rock is basalt (looks like Tirohia rock in a way) and also has a red breccia looking rock in some parts of the quarry.

This quarry has a wharf that supplies aggregate to Sydney by sea and Hansen?s ship carries up to 5,000 tons of aggregate for this purpose. However, due to the shallow depth of water at their wharf and handling centre in Sydney, they are limited to carrying 3,000 tons of mostly concrete aggregates. This quarry is also a large supplier of rip-rap product for the area around Wollongong. The quarry has been operating for over 40 years, covers 150 Hectares and has another 20 years plus of life left in it. Plant is old but has had crusher upgrades during its life. Due to its close proximity to a local reserve and park, they have strict conditions on their mining consents.

In addition, at this site they have a Pegson mobile jaw and cone crushing plant for crushing concrete metal. We had a close look at this plant, which works the late shift – 6.00pm to 6.00am.

Bass Point Quarry are the record holders for ‘the largest shot fired in a quarry in Australia’ ? 300,000 tonnes of material, 76 tonnes of explosive. This quarry has three pits. They are using a Cat 992 wheel loader & 2 x 777B dumpers to supply rock to the plant.

Albion Park
The next quarry we saw was a Readymix quarry at Albion Park, 15km inland from Shell Harbour. This quarry has yearly sales of 750,000 tonnes of aggregate. Rock is basalt, also looks like Tirohia rock, but there are no major overburden problems. This quarry has also been operating for over 40 years, covers 200 Hectares and has another 20 years plus left. They also have strict conditions on their mining consents because of tropical forests in gullies around the quarry.

The plant is old, but has had crusher upgrades during its life. The quarry also has a concrete aggregate blending plant, a roading chip pre-coating plant and a ready mix plant on site. The Quarry?s 2 pits are 1.5 km from the crushing plant site.

They were using a Komatsu WA700 wheel loader & 2 x Komatsu HD465 dumpers to supply rock to the plant. Readymix have a very good Health & Safety policy in place at this site.

What got me was how close other quarries were to this site – one was next door with only 10 metres between quarry pits, plus another two quarries in a radius of 1.5km.

Readymix use very distinctive pink coloured delivery trucks.

Lucas Heights Landfill and Quarry
Day Two took us out to Lucas Heights, Illawara (in Sydney?s southwest), to a landfill and quarry run by Waste Services, but contracted out to Clearly Bros from Wollongong. This site covers 250 hectares and has been in operation for 18 years.

Three years ago it was taking over 1.2 million tonnes of material a year but has now dropped back to 550,000 tonnes as the local council has developed a large recycling centre in close proximity. It is the largest landfill in the southern hemisphere. They use a Cat 992 loader, converted to a compactor, on site. This compactor has a weight of 100 tonnes. This site also has a quarry that supplies cover material to the landfill and to complete outside contracts.

Crushing plant includes a Jaw crusher, EL-Jay cone crusher, Barmac and screens. Rock was Sydney sandstone from which they were making sub-base material and sand. Between the landfill and quarry, they have 30 items of plant and a staff of 44. At the highest point on the landfill, they have 100 metres depth of rubbish. Leachate from the site is treated and cleaned to go into the council sewage system.

In a partnership between Waste Services and Energy Development, gases are generated into power via 14 x V16 generators.

All green waste is made into compost. Compost is shredded, screened and then put in composting heaps. A Cat 980 loader is used to heap up the rows of compost.

3km down the road is another landfill that was in use before this newer landfill was developed. This site is now home to a soccer field, a golf driving range plus an 18-hole golf course on the site also being developed by Clearly Bros.

Komatsu Parts & Workshop facility
The Komatsu Parts & Workshop facility is located at Fairfield. Komatsu have over 200 staff. Their Parts Department is run by the transport freight company TNT. The parts are owned by Komatsu, but TNT look after the distribution and delivery. They have between $60 and 90 million worth of parts and over 60,000 line items.

Photo is of Komatsu’s Geoff Pisani, Warwick and Graham Leach.

M7 Motorway
Geoff Pisani, our host, took us to the new motorway construction project on Sydney?s western side. This motorway is called the M7 [Western link]. This is a 45km long motorway and will have 176 bridges. Aggregate requirements for this project are:-
* Pavement – 500,000 tonnes of concrete metal
* Bridges and kerbs – 200,000 tonnes of concrete metal and 200,000 tonnes of sub base material.
Aggregate supplies for this project are sourced from three quarrying companies – Pioneer Quarry group, Readymix Quarry group and Borals Quarry group. One company could not supply enough material for this project.

Three batching plants are on the project and these are averaging 1200, 1500, & 1800 tonnes of concrete per day, respectively. The bigger plant of the three was designed to produce 400 tonnes per hour. However, their best day?s production was 2200 tonnes, but they had to stop because they ran out of water. Cement requirement is a staggering 70 bulk truck movements per day!

In summary, Australia has a roading system that is being improved all the time. Their building and construction industry is also well ahead of NZ. Their quarry industry reflects this with what we saw at these quarries. If New Zealand spent more on roading & building construction, our Industry would be better off.

Things that have impressed me are:
1) the loading system for the barge at Bass Point which handles 900 tonnes per hour.
2) Loading out at quarry faces with big loaders – this could also reflect distance between quarry faces.
3) The Health & Safety policy in place at the Readymix Albion
4) Fire retard systems on all the loaders, diggers, dumpers etc at all sites. Insurance Companies are requesting that all machinery that has a value of $400,000 plus, must have these fitted. Komatsu Australia is also fitting external emergency stop buttons and lockout switches to their machinery. This is to comply with Australian Mining regulations and procedures. The quarry industry in Australia is slowly adopting these regulations also, but this all costs money to implement.
5) the use of concrete in road pavement construction is costly, but offers long life out of the pavement.

We headed to Queensland and had talks with Barry McCann who owns Mobile Screening & Crushing Ltd. He has screening & crushing plants on hire around Surfers Paradise and the Sunshine Coast.
Barry has the 883 Finland screen operating in front of the Komatsu 350 mobile jaw tracker crusher. The mobile plant has 30,000 tonnes of overburden material to process. The Finland 883 screen removes the sticky fines which leaves the rocky material to go through the 350 Komatsu jaw crusher. They are producing 75mm all in base material for roading.

I would like to take this opportunity in thanking Steve Haines, Marketing Manager, of Komatsu NZ for the chance to visit Sydney and a special thanks to Komatsu Australia?s Charles Wheeldon who is the National Business Manager for Quarries. He was the person who put together the itinerary. Charles also joined us on the quarry and landfill site visits.

To Geoff Pisani who drove us around – he was also a great host who went that extra mile in making our trip a very interesting and enjoyable tour. Driving through Sydney at peak times – is a story on its own. Geoff is Komatsu’s Major Accounts Manager for Quarries.

In closing I would like to say to my fellow IOQ members that these travel awards that are up for grabs each year at our conference are there for us to further our knowledge in the quarrying industry and to see how Aussies operate quarries, it?s just on a bigger scale which is mind boggling. So everyone should have a go at these awards. To our major supplies thank you and I hope you keep supporting our Industry.