Council stakes claim to resource boom

Maranoa Regional Council plans to thoroughly recoup a $5 million investment in state of the art aggregate machinery in a stunning signal the shire is not only thriving, but also booming.

In a major deal with the nation?s leading asphalt technology providers, Astec Australia, the Roma Quarry is increasing production of its own aggregate for infrastructure projects in the western Queensland region.

At the same time, the move by Astec Australia represents a push by the Brisbane-based company into the quarrying and mining sector in a bid to apply creative thinking and state of the art technology to traditionally low tech industries.

Maranoa mayor Robert Loughnan said the deal to purchase two custom-configured aggregate producing trains made economic sense as the quarry had been hiring crushers at a cost of $1 million per year since 2006.

He said that in 2008 alone the quarry produced 200,000 tonnes of aggregate and made $3.15 million in revenue, with both figures expected to increase in 2010 and 2011.

?We needed to increase our capacity out there. In the past, we had been looking at servicing our own requirements internally and producing cheaper roads by not going to the open market for aggregate,? he explained.

?We need to do a lot more collaboration with the shires to the west of here. We have Surat Basin coal to our east and that?s a captive market. It is good for us, because of our situation here we are more remote.

?It is good for our community in that they were subject to a lack of competition before. I think the biggest win is having a competitive price on your raw product. We are the seventh largest shire in Australia. That tells you something. We are confident now we can take it to the next level.?

The Roma Quarry business unit is now one of the three biggest money spinners for the council alongside the Roma Airport and the Roma Sale yards, the largest cattle sale in Australia.

The quarry employs six full-time workers as well as contractors.

?We want to get our foot in the door with Main Roads because of the sheer volume of aggregate,? Robert said. ?From my perspective, I?d
like to do a lot more work with the western councils ? we see it as a natural fit.?

Australian exploration and production company Santos alone intends to construct a mammoth 2000km of road in the future for its oil and gas operations which are expected to last for between 40 and 100 years. Drilling is also expected to last in the region for the next 10 to 20 years.

Astec Australia, in partnership with its United States sister company KPI-JCI, worked to commission and deliver the equipment on-site in December 2009.

Astec Australia?s commercial and operations manager, Neil Federer, said the ?track equipment? included six pieces of equipment.
?Every single thing that is built requires some kind of stone, whether it is resurfacing the Warrego Highway or general infrastructure development. Given the population and infrastructure growth in Australia, we see the demand for aggregate continuing to increase,? Neil said.

?For us, working with Maranoa Regional Council makes sense. It is only six hours away from Brisbane. We stock all necessary spare parts to support the equipment and we have an on-call mobile response team, Astec Response, that has been trained to service this type of equipment both on-site and remotely.

?A lot of councils don?t run their own quarries. Maranoa has an asset from which it can extract significant value which benefits the region and council?s budget.

?It means it has a greater capacity to serve the market out there. It means they can develop projects with a guarantee that they will have a supply of aggregate, particularly when supply is tight. This helps underpin the economic development of the area by having some control over costs and the availability of material.?

KPI-JCI international sales co-ordinator Randy Orre, who visited the site last December, said it represented the first project of its kind in Australia for the Oregon-based company.

?That?s pretty exciting to us. We think it is going to open up to us in a way that hasn?t existed before. The difference for us now is we have a company presence in Australia with Astec Australia,? he said.

?What we are doing here with this first installation is establishing in-country team expertise, service support and parts support which we believe will enhance our ability to sell into Australia.

?It is a market we have struggled to break into because we?ve lacked the proper distributors in the past. Now that has changed, having Astec Australia as part of the team.?

Source: Astec Australia

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend