Report from George Kelcher (Vice President IOQ NZ)

This year’s Australian Institute of Quarrying Conference was the first combined Conference made up of the Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) and the Cement, Concrete, and Aggregates Australia (CCAA) with the title of ?Construction Materials Industry Conference (CMIC 2006)? and a very appropriate theme of ?Partnering for the Future?.

The Conference was held on Melbourne?s South Bank at the Crown Towers Convention Centre and was well attended by around 680 delegates and partners.

The weather in Melbourne for the week of the Conference was fantastic and on the Wednesday the temperature reached 37 degrees which is a lot hotter than most South Islanders like myself are used to.

Registration opened around 6.00pm on Wednesday at Crown Towers and it was straight into the Atlas Copco Welcome Reception. The entertainment for this function varied from very athletic and attractive Belly Dancers to Snake Charmers with the real live snake variety.

The normal round of welcome speeches took place followed by some of the numerous awards on offer being presented. There was a good turn out from delegates and partners and it was great to catch up with acquaintances and friends both old and new.

Thursday was into the business end of the Conference with Jim Playstead as MC.
The various papers presented were all of high quality with an interesting format of single papers happening through to 3pm and then the papers being split into three topics being Cement, Concrete and Extractive Industries for the final session. This provided an extremely wide variety of topics to listen to and learn from.

Thursday afternoon saw a shopping tour organised for the partners, sponsored by Hitachi, and I am lead to believe that Melbourne is a pretty impressive place to shop.

Thursday night started with the BT Equipment Happy Hour and then it was off to a mystery destination for the Komatsu Dinner. This involved getting 600 plus people to Flinders Railway Station, onto a private train with the destination being the famous Flemington Racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup.

This was a well organized night with some betting taking place on a couple of races, a fine dinner and some excellent singing entertainment that is becoming a bit of a hallmark with Komatsu. I understand that a couple of the group performing were also part of the excellent performance given at the Christchurch Town Hall during the NZ Conference.

It was very nice to meet Terry Last and his wife Caroline, who has just stepped down from being President of IOQ UK and to be able to discuss a wide range of subjects over dinner.

Friday was another full on day with a wide variety of papers to attend and also the Orica Partners day, all being well attended. A number of the papers were aimed at planning and investment, workplace reform and the Australian Government agenda, again with partnering as the theme.

One particular paper in the afternoon was extremely interesting to me and this was on constructing the Eureka Tower (pictured at left) which is situated very close to where the Conference was held and is reputedly the world?s tallest residential tower. The technique of using 100Mpa concrete and pumping this up 68 floors, and the upper section of slightly lower strength concrete but pumping the whole 92 floors (292m) in one lift was quite fantastic, leading edge construction technique that is world first technology.

Friday night was a free night and along came an invitation for myself and partner Joanne for dinner and an evening out with Australian President, John Malempre and wife Tammy and Conference Chairman Graeme Martin and wife Elsie-May. This was a very relaxing night at a restaurant beside the river on Melbourne?s Southbank.

Saturday was another day of papers until 12.30 and then the Mack Trucks Conference Luncheon with another high quality meal. Mack also had an extremely interesting guest speaker in the form of Li Cunxin who wrote the book ?Mao?s Last Dancer?.
It was an incredible life story that held the crowd spell bound for a full 40 minutes.

A full list of the papers presented can be found on the IQA Website

Straight after the luncheon was the Maxim Australia Auction and this raised a very large amount of money for the IQA.

The IQA Annual General Meeting was held in the afternoon and then it was time to attend another BT Equipment Happy Hour.

Before long it was time to get dressed up for the formal Caterpillar Gala Dinner and Awards night. Once again we were both extremely well looked after and it was a great night to get around and talk to a lot of other delegates. There was a great band and plenty of fun was had by all with the balance of the Awards being given out to worthy recipients.

The whole Conference was of a very high standard, both in presentation and in content. The overall concept of having a combined Conference with the CCAA worked very well and is being looked at again for the future, possibly every second year with the normal IQA Conference being held in between.

A very sincere thanks from both Joanne and myself for the hospitality and friendship that was extended to us during the Conference. I thoroughly recommend to any one thinking of attending a future Australian Conference to do so. Next year is to be in Hobart, Tasmania 24th to 27th October and will be the 50th Australian IOQ Conference.