Gearing up, being equipped for a demanding decade

Welcome to Sydney for CMIC 18!

This year’s biennial Construction Materials Industry Conference brings me full circle as Quarry editor. My first conference was CMIC 08 in Sydney in 2008, at the then roundhouse-style Darling Harbour Convention Centre.

In 2017, I returned to the harbour city – and I was “wowed” not just by the International Convention Centre that replaced the roundhouse structure but the amazing infrastructure work in and around the Sydney CBD.

Sydney has been a hub of the nation’s infrastructure activity for two years, and is a fitting venue for the conference’s theme of “Building tomorrow’s Australia”.

Based on advance interviews I’ve conducted with some of the conference speakers, I think everyone this year is in for a treat.

Chris Riddell and Andrew Harris provide some fascinating insights into how new and emerging technologies will augment and enhance the construction materials industry.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-Q:"Governments and their agencies have (finally) recognised that they must harness secure lines of supply"}}Boral chairman Kathryn Fagg also has some words of encouragement for the industry in this era of disruption and change.

Adrian Hart is a font of construction market knowledge. His thoughts on the expanding construction pipeline and its impact on the capacity and capability of the construction materials industry will resonate with many members.

His comments are timely – state governments and their agencies have (finally) recognised that they must harness secure lines of supply to cater for rapid population and urban growth.

Indeed, the New South Wales DPE has commissioned a study from RW Corkery and Ecoroc that is examining the supply constraints across NSW and projections about the quantities and quality of aggregate that will be required up to 2036.

Victoria similarly commissioned a supply and demand study in 2016, which considered the local industry’s challenges to 2050.

The engineering construction segment will be very quarry product-intensive in the next decade. Transport is the most dominant part of this segment but another with untapped potential is the energy market.

Quarries invariably provide infrastructure for renewable energy projects, which makes the Federal Government’s failure to formulate a credible, comprehensive energy policy more profound.

Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott will be speaking about the National Energy Guarantee. I interviewed Ms Schott prior to the tumultuous events in Canberra in the third week of August. It will be interesting to hear what she (and political commentator Janine Perrett) has to say about the policy in the aftermath.

Malcontents intent on tearing down another Prime Minister sabotaged what seemed to me a sensible energy policy. The end result is the same energy policy uncertainty that has plagued our governance for a decade.

So much for the “courageous leadership” required in a disruptive world that Ms Fagg will be discussing. Some of our politicians ought to attend her keynote address to better understand what leadership is!

But I digress. CMIC 18 is an opportunity for the industry to take stock of where it sits at this point in time, where it’s going, and how organisations can adapt to change. From all the projections, the construction materials sector nationwide will be very busy for up to a decade. The industry, with assistance from the regulators, must be equipped for future demand.

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