Operator turns to mobile fleet to meet demand

February 25, 2016,

With Queensland still enjoying a boost from the mining boom and the reconstruction efforts following last year’s floods, a Central Queensland quarry operator has had to bring in some heavy duty mobile equipment to keep up with orders. Mandy Parry-Jones reports.

Queenslanders were hit with a state government budget that implied the state was faring very badly recently – but that is not the case for everyone, as the quarry industry seems to be a winner.

Central Queensland Quarries (CQQ) under the leadership of managing director Ian Robinson is doing very well and the future looks just as bright. However, it’s not good to have orders flowing in if you can’t meet demand.

“We’ve got a lot happening, it’s encouraging that this work is not like a couple of months work, we’re looking at a couple of years. The future looks pretty good,” he said.

CQQ operates four different quarry sites in the Central Queensland area: Fairview near Banana, Castle Creek near Theodore, Red Rock near Blackwater and Stanwell near Rockhampton.

Fairview is a source of andersite and at Castle Creek and Red Rock there is basalt. Stanwell is mainly road base and rail ballast as well as decomposed granite, which accounts for 40 per cent of the sales, as it is very much in demand in the area. Recently the company established a depot in Banana, which is central to the location of its four operations. It will act as the central administration area as well as having a new workshop and store where the company can house consumables.

“We’ll be able to react to any problems in a far better way than we have in the past,” Robinson said about the new locale.

“We have 40 staff plus contractors and we’re looking for another two. Then there are at least another 10 contractors around the place. We also sub-contract a lot of our transport.”

As well as the four permanent sites, the company has done mobile crushing work on contract in the past but that is changing.

Mobile crushing continues to be done on CQQ’s own sites, whereas previously the company had also contracted out to external sites but now there’s so much work that Robinson said that they would probably be looking at contracting other people in.

“We’re not looking for mobile crushing work at the moment, we’re so busy we can’t look at that, but in the past we’ve also looked at contracting ourselves out,” Robinson said.

“The site that is producing the bulk of our material at the moment is Fairview, which is 20 kilometres east of Banana. It has a complete Finlay circuit producing 2.1 road base at about 300 tonnes an hour. That comprises a jaw, a cone, two impactors and a screening plant.”

Those machines are just a small part of the list of Finlay machines that form the CQQ inventory. There are two J-1175 jaw crushers, two C-1540 cone crushers, a C1540RS cone crusher, a C-1550 cone crusher, two AC210 vertical shaft impact crushers, a 984 horizontal screen and four Supertrak screening machines.

Of those, only the C-1550 cone crusher and two Supertrak machines were on the books before, all the rest of the new machinery has been added to cope with the increased demand.

“Ian started working with us about six years ago when he came to us with a problem he had with another machine,” Ronnie Bustard, Finlay’s hire and project manager, explained.

Bustard said that CQQ approached him when they knew they had to upgrade their current machinery and he was able to help immediately because Finlay had supplied similar road base machinery to other companies. He knew what was needed to do the job successfully.

“We’re looking at maintaining our relationship with Finlay to enable us to continue to be competitive,” Robinson said. “Once we established this new equipment, we were able to produce material competitively. Before, when we were using older gear, the throughput wasn’t the same and there were more frequent breakdown. We’ve now gone to the next level where we’re able to put material on the ground at the volumes that enable us to be efficient and profitable.”

Robinson said a large part of the demand for his product is coming through roadwork that is being done, some of which is a result of the Queensland floods last year. Some is also due to a “pretty ordinary” road network in the area that has to be improved.

“Main roads development work that has been planned is now happening around our area. We’ve expanded our operations to include Stanwell, which is our quarry near Rockhampton. It is starting to have a lot of interest, a lot of people asking us for quotes. The product going out of there has really increased,” said Robinson.

When the work started to flow in, it was time for CQQ to upgrade its equipment. He said Bustard from Finlay came through with flying colours because Finlay Screening and Crushing carries a large stock of machinery and could deliver promptly.

“We have used Finlay machinery for some time in this company for different roles. When I first started looking at this project to ramp up our operations, other suppliers were not able to offer a package where they could offer the complete range of machines. You’d end up buying bits and pieces all over the place,” Robinson recalled.

“Alternatively, the lead times were unrealistic. Finlay was able to look at the whole package of what we needed and offer us a very attractive deal. The timelines were very good. It was another good reason to go with them.

Robinson cited a number of reasons why CQQ chose Finlay machinery, including Finlay Screening and Crushing’s ability for back-up, maintenance and repairs. “Finlay have an excellent back-up service and if we have problems, they’re just a phone call away and a solution will be found.

“Once the phone call’s made, we ascertain what’s wrong and then a solution is worked out. Finlay will come out to see us or they will get someone to come out or we’ll sort it out via telephone diagnostics.

“The most important thing is our ability to contact them and work out a solution in a very short space of time.”

According to Robinson, it is the downtime which is minimised by Finlay’s ability to react and find solutions in a very short space of time that is the really big positive for his quarry operations.

“The back-up is definitely the main feature as a user that you would look at. The machines are robust. Typically the conditions these machines work in are pretty difficult and we can’t say they’re without fault. Finlay’s ability to diagnose and fix those problems are what we’re after,” he said.