Disruption, supply issues dominate CMIC 18

More than 600 delegates from across Australia and nine other countries attended the IQA/CCAA Construction Materials Industry Conference from 19 to 21 September at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

The bulk of the attendees were from the east coast, in particular New South Wales and Queensland. There were up to 20 visitors from New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore.

There were 40 exhibitors, which included suppliers in earthmoving equipment, crushing, screening and conveying solutions, concrete and cement applications, environmental, surveying and planning applications, and financial and educational expertise.

Among these were key sponsors in Komatsu Australia (gala dinner), Hitachi Construction Machinery (welcome function), CJD Equipment/Volvo Construction Equipment (notepads and pens supplier), MAXAM Australia (name badge and lanyards supplier), Weir Minerals (barista service), Terex Jaques (water bottle supplier), Landair Surveys (networking drinks), Freightliner Trucks (barista service) and Construction Materials Insurance Australia (business leaders’ lunch).

The conference partners were Adelaide Brighton, Boral Australia, Cement Australia, Hanson Australia and Holcim Australia.

Courageous leadership

The plenary program on Thursday, 20 September, began with the Welcome to Country by Michael West, the cultural representative of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

West produced a boomerang – aka a message stick – and encouraged delegates at the front of the plenary room to recite some of the themes inscribed on the stick that would encompass the conference – eg relationships, stories, experiences, humanity, diversity – and sum up the unity of all Australians.

The keynote speaker was Boral Australia’s non-executive chair Kathryn Fagg. She explained that infrastructure was a common topic of discussion in her time as a Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) board member, as it was viewed as a significant “enabler” of growth in the broader economy.

She remarked that construction materials companies are now beneficiaries of that growth, and must be more responsive to disruption and change in areas such as worker and transport safety, product innovation, sustainability, worker diversity and professional services.

Fagg also said that in an era in which community trust in corporate institutions is at a historic low, compliance and transparency within organisations is critical. In the wake of the banking royal commission, many other industries outside the extractive sector will have to view compliance in a similar way to the extractive sector’s safety obligations.

Fagg’s key message was that change and disruption require leaders to be courageous – and there was a general sentiment among presenters and delegates that Australian politics was bereft of it. This was a topic discussed by political commentators Michael Pascoe and Janine Perrett.

Pascoe gave a highly entertaining presentation on the macroeconomic narrative. He advised delegates to view all economic forecasts with a critical eye, as they are often predicated on an assumption the economy is running at full capacity (the “magic figure” is apparently 23 per cent of GDP). While the Federal Government boasts of a $75 billion pipeline of infrastructure spending to 2025, he said infrastructure expenditure has actually fallen since 2013. This has prompted the RBA to call for more, not less, public spending on infrastructure.

Nevertheless, Pascoe was confident it is a “really good time” to own a quarry, as the infrastructure pipeline appears to be sustainable.

Perrett ably complemented Pascoe’s talk. She observed that business loathes policy uncertainty, but it is unlikely to end.

The revelations of the banking royal commission will also mean business across the board will have to work hard to restore Australians’ trust in corporate institutions.

Veteran economic commentator Michael Pascoe gave a highly entertaining presentation on the macroeconomic narrative.

Adrian Hart, of BIS Oxford Economics, said that the states’ capacity – and the industry’s capability – to keep up with demand is an issue.

Futurist Chris Riddell discussed the differences between banana plantations (a metaphor for established businesses) and rainforests (start-ups looking for life-changing opportunities).

ESB chairman Kerry Schott was optimistic about the future of dispatchable and sustainable energy – in spite of recent politics in Canberra.

Disruption, energy

Disruption and change were themes in subsequent presentations. Futurist Chris Riddell argued the construction materials industry, to keep up with the rapid pace of technology, needs to be innovative and completely change its business approach.

Professor Andrew Harris, of Laing O’Rourke’s Engineering Excellence Group, expanded on Riddell’s “macro level trends” by exploring numerous innovations, eg immersing stakeholders in a digital model of infrastructure projects (before they commence building), possibilities in 3D printing, and development of self-repairing concrete and other building materials.

Energy reliability and sustainability was a big theme, starting with a presentation from Kerry Schott, chair of the Energy Security Board, about the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

The Federal Government has abandoned the NEG, but Schott said its reliability requirements may still be implemented, with the assent of state governments. (Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor was due to meet with his state counterparts on the COAG Energy Council at the end of October to secure agreement on the reliability component of the NEG.)

Schott was also optimistic that Australia’s pledge in the Paris Accords to lower its emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels could still be achieved by 2020 – solar is very competitive without subsidies, so it is entirely possible investment in the renewable energy sector won’t fall dramatically. This could create opportunities for the extractive industry to work with the electricity market to save on energy expenses.

John O’Brien, a partner at Deloitte Australia, agreed with Schott’s optimism, arguing renewables are best able to achieve price parity, performance parity, increased grid reliability and resilience.

He predicted technological innovation would drive significant improvements in renewable energy and that companies globally will embrace those innovations – despite the policies of various governments.

Gordon Wymer, chief commercial officer of Snowy Hydro, similarly said industry is leaning towards wind and solar power because these resources are exempt from the volatility of international commodity prices. He predicted the costs of wind and solar energy would fall and pumped energy storage projects such as Snowy 2.0 would maintain system reliability while still meeting renewable energy targets.

Capacity, capability

Demand and supply, and capacity and capability, was the other discussion point of CMIC 18.

Geoff Roberts, deputy chief commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, outlined the NSW Government’s vision that redefines Sydney as a Metropolis of Three Cities: the Western Parkland City, the Central River City and the Eastern Harbour City.

Part of this vision is to transform the Western Sydney region into a “global economic machine”. It would encompass the Western Sydney Airport, and global companies will be encouraged to operate in the neighbouring Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis.

There will be a concerted effort to relocate education services that are concentrated in the Eastern Harbour City to Western Sydney, and to that end the University of NSW will open a new campus in the region.

A north-south rail link will connect Rouse Hill to St Marys and the Aerotropolis to Macarthur, while an east-west rail link will connect the Western Parkland City to the Central River City.

Under the three cities plan, it is estimated up to 10 million tonnes of quarry materials will be required to facilitate the migration of Sydney’s population across the three regions.

It raises the question of how planners will ensure resources are available for the construction of new facilities in the three cities, including Western Sydney.

The issue of capacity and capability was integral to Adrian Hart’s talk.

Hart, associate director of BIS Oxford Economics (BISOE), said while there is strong growth in engineering construction across the nation (particularly in the non-residential building and transport spaces), the states’ capacity – and the capabilities of the quarrying industry – to keep up with demand is an issue, potentially leading to construction costs (currently at four per cent CPI) that will be higher than during the mining boom at its peak.

Hart argued the infrastructure pipeline is impressive, but the states need transparent plans for the availability and delivery of construction materials, as well as other strategies for recycling and waste by-products. He said a BISOE report for Infrastructure NSW that surveyed up to 50 organisations in the construction space revealed cement, sand and concrete products were an ongoing concern. The different jurisdictions also need to better co-ordinate their infrastructure programs, so they are not competing for the same resources and skills.

Geoff Roberts, deputy chief commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, outlined the NSW Government’s vision of Sydney as a Metropolis of Three Cities.

Steven Spurr discussed the Edelman Trust Barometer.

The keynote speaker was Kathryn Fagg, non-executive chair of Boral Australia.

Who do you trust?

On 21 September, Edelman Australia CEO Stephen Spurr spoke about the Edelman Trust Barometer, an online survey that has collated more than 18 years of data from more than 33,000 respondents in 28 countries on questions of trust in political and business institutions.

Australia is among countries in the extreme trust losses bracket – just four points off Russia! Spurr reported that while Australians distrust government, media, business and non-government organisations intensely, they still trust employers and believe businesses should be more proactive on social issues.

They also have more confidence in CEOs to deliver policy outcomes than politicians, and expect them to make informed contributions to policy debates.

Spurr suggested the takeaway for the extractive industry is that Australians will support initiatives, such as new quarries, provided engagement strategies resonate with the community and are not perceived as self-serving.

Bruce Harvey, director and principal of resolution88, echoed this message. In his presentation on quarry closures and rehabilitation, Harvey said extractive companies will gain more support from communities if they can promote economic opportunities beyond the quarry’s life.

Further, he recommended a company’s human resources division employ local people to manage the operation, which should also foster training of local apprentices.

Harvey encouraged extractive companies and regulators to work with local entrepreneurs on options that encourage innovative end uses and repurposing of quarries.

Equality, diversity

Other speakers over the course of the conference included the Hon Donald Harwin MLC, the NSW Minister for Resources, who discussed the infrastructure pipeline in the Greater Sydney Region and NSW; Sustainability Cloud CEO Phillip White (on the opportunities and innovations of a circular economy); and Janin Bredehoeft, the research and analytics executive manager of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The conference formally concluded with the authoritative voice of former Paralympian Kurt Fearnley, whose sporting and life achievements rival those of many able-bodied athletes: silver and gold medals in wheelchair racing (at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympics); a victorious crew member on Investec Loyal in the 2012 Sydney to Hobart yacht race; and hauling himself along the notorious Kokoda Trail (in 2009).

Fearnley described how life for disabled people in Australia has changed dramatically since the 1980s – they undertake education and training today that they would once have been denied.

He said statistics are showing employment of disabled workers is positive and life-affirming, and retention rates are high. Fearnley argued, though, that a change in the business mindset and culture is still a long way off, and the “fight” for equal opportunity is “everybody’s fight”.

Networking events

In addition to the plenary sessions, there were plenty of opportunities for delegates to network.

There were about 250 attendees at the innovation day (on Wednesday, 19 September), which consisted of short presentations from members and suppliers to the industry.

Some of the topics focused on stakeholder relations, health and safety (including mental health), talent recruitment and building, and project approvals. There were also tips and advice on a variety of plant solutions, including belt maintenance, flocculation systems, modular grinding plants, tramp metal detection, washout water recycling and transportation of test cylinders.

On the first evening (19 September), delegates networked at the Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia welcome function at The Port, Darling Harbour. This was a relaxed, informal get-together for delegates before the official program got under way. The following night (20 September), the Komatsu Australia gala dinner at the iconic Luna Park provided a truly carnival atmosphere, with clowns and walkers on stilts welcoming delegates as they stepped off the ferry from Darling Harbour. There were even amusement arcades and rides, including dodgem cars, open for people to try out.

Delegates then settled down to a three-course meal as contemporary Australian illusionist Sam Powers strutted his stuff on stage, “wowing” everyone with his blend of cheeky, flirtatious humour (with men and women alike!) and audacious trickery.

The gala dinner also set the scene for the CCAA’s National Innovation Awards, which were presented to extractive operations around the country for their contributions to health and safety, the environment and stakeholder relations.

Notable among the recipients was Braeside Quarry, which last year won one of the IQA’s top honours for its development of a recycled rubber explosives process.

This year it collected the CCAA’s National Environment Innovation Award for the same project.

On the final afternoon delegates attended the Construction Materials Insurance Australia-sponsored business leaders’ lunch. A panel comprising Infrastructure NSW CEO Jim Betts, CCAA chairman and Holcim CEO Mark Campbell and BISOE’s Adrian Hart continued the discussion on infrastructure challenges identified in the previous three days.

CMIC 18 definitely lived up to the hype of its plenary program, with some outstanding presenters and thought-provoking themes and subjects. Capacity and capability, energy affordability and security, courageous leadership, equality and diversity, and the social licence were just some of the topics debated and vigorously discussed.

There was plenty of “food for thought” for delegates upon their return to the workplace.

Copies of the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations – from the plenary sessions and the industry innovation day – are now available on the “Events” page of the CCAA website:

The IQA has announced that its 62nd annual conference in 2019 will be hosted at the Geelong Football Club, at Kardinia Park, in the regional Victorian city of Geelong. Further details about the event will be available in the new year.

The next joint IQA/CCAA Construction Materials Industry Conference will be hosted in 2020.

Ryan Crawford (right) is this year’s Alec Northover Award recipient.

Shane Braddy (left) presents the IQA Gold Hard Hat
Award to Phil Hope, of Holcim Bunbury.

The recipients of the 2018 CCAA National Innovation Awards.

Individual & Company Awards
Over the course of CMIC 18, the IQA presented its annual awards that recognise members’ outstanding achievements within the extractive industry. This year’s recipients were:
  • Excellence in Innovation Award (sponsored by Trimble) – Malcolm Sawers and Michael Benic.
  • Alec Northover Award (sponsored by the Australian Institute of Quarrying Education Foundation) – Ryan Crawford.
  • Gold Hard Hat Award – Holcim Bunbury, Western Australia.
  • Gold Environment Award (sponsored by Groundwork Plus) – Brian Burr, Holcim Bli Bli Quarry.
  • Operator of the Year Award (sponsored by Retracom Group) – Mark Bevan.
  • Quarry Manager of the Year Award ( > 10FTE, sponsored by Metso) – Steve Butcher, Hanson.
  • Quarry Manager of the Year Award ( < 10FTE, sponsored by Metso) – Matt Neil, Holcim.
  • Supplier of the Year Award – Mike Cooper, Cooper Consulting.
  • President’s Medal – Andrew Wilson.
The CCAA also held its National Innovation Awards at the Komatsu Australia gala dinner on 20 September. Numerous extractive companies received awards and commendations for innovations in the fields of community relations, environment, and health and safety:
  • Community Leadership Award – Boral Teven Quarry, NSW.
  • Health and Safety Innovation Award – Cockburn Cement, Munster, WA.
  • Environment Innovation Award – Braeside Quarry, Queensland.
  • Community Leadership (Commendation) – Holcim Beenleigh Quarry, Queensland.
  • Health and Safety Innovation (Commendation) – Boral Logistics, Wacol, Queensland.
  • Environmental Innovation (Commendation) – Boral Murray Bridge Quarry, SA.

Further coverage of the 2018 IQA Awards recipients will appear in future issues of Quarry.


Eleven representatives from the 16 extractive companies that support the IQA’s Membership Pledge signed it on stage at CMIC 18. From left: Scott Buchanan (Holcim); Phil Schacht (Hanson); Clayton Denny (Epiroc); Kane Salisbury (MSP Group); Clayton Hill (IQA President); Paul Kerr (Precisionscreen); Scott Lancaster (Quarry Solutions); Shaun Fanning (Metso); Cameron Coleman (Wagners); and Fred Moschini (Barro Group).

Extractive companies express vote of confidence in industry education

The IQA’s Membership Pledge – an initiative also recently undertaken in the UK – is designed to assist the Institute in communicating value, and the value proposition, to the industry and companies involved with the IQA.

While the IQA is a professional industry organisation with individual membership, it recognises and values the work of its members’ companies and employers in supporting their memberships and assisting the IQA in meeting its vision of educating and connecting the extractive industry.

So, what is the value proposition?

The IQA is making the commitment to industry that it will continue to develop and deliver educational platforms through a consolidated single source – the Australasian Academy of Quarrying (AAQ) – that are industry-specific, designed to assist in meeting duty of care and competency requirements for statutory positions, and lift the industry standard across many areas, including safety, environment and people development.

The AAQ is the IQA’s vehicle to provide training and professional development. It also includes the industry’s first Bachelor of Quarrying Engineering and postgraduate qualifications, along with Certificate III to Diploma level vocational education studies, and the existing professional development programs.

The IQA’s commitment is that it will stay relevant, provide access to industry-leading content and provide a pathway for industry professionals to advance their careers and provide further value for their employers.

At CMIC18, the IQA was pleased to announce that 16 companies had made a commitment to sign the Membership Pledge. Representatives of those companies joined IQA President Clayton Hill on stage to sign the pledge. The supporters of the pledge (to date) are:

  • Adelaide Brighton.
  • The Barro Group.
  • Boral.
  • Braeside Quarry.
  • Epiroc.
  • Groundwork Plus.
  • Hanson.
  • Holcim.
  • Komatsu.
  • Mawsons.
  • Metso.
  • MSP Group.
  • Orica.
  • Precisionscreen.
  • Quarry Solutions.
  • Wagners.

The IQA is grateful to all pledging companies for their support. The Institute also looks forward to continuing to work hard for the industry, companies and members, and providing value for membership.

The IQA invites and welcomes further companies to sign the IQA Membership Pledge. For more information, contact the IQA’s new chief executive officer Kylie Fahey via email:

Building Tomorrow’s Australia, Sydney 2018

CMIC 18 will be remembered for its impressive array of speakers and thought-provoking topics, mixed with moments of subtle wittiness, solemn reflection and formal acknowledgements of great accomplishment. Outside of the formal plenary program, there was also a strong party atmosphere, best exemplified by the visit to Sydney’s Luna Park …

John O’Brien (Deloitte) predicted that technological innovation would drive improvements in renewables.

Gordon Wymer (Snowy Hydro) outlines the Snowy 2.0 project.

NSW Resources Minister Donald Harwin MLC.

Political journalist Janine Perrett warned that policy uncertainty out of Canberra would continue for some time.

Lunch panellists comprising (l-r) Jim Betts (Infrastructure NSW), Mark Campbell (Holcim) and Adrian Hart (BIS Oxford Economics) discuss the challenges associated with the delivery of infrastructure and the demand for construction materials.

The Metso-sponsored Manager of the Year (<10FTE) is Holcim’s Matt Neil (right).


Mark Bevan (right) is the 2018 Operator of the Year.

Consultant Mike Cooper (right) is the 2018 Supplier of the Year.

James Rowe (right) with Gold Environment Award recipient Brian Burr.

Metso’s Shaun Fanning (left) presents Hanson’s Steve Butcher with the 2018 Manager of the Year Award (> 10FTE).

Clayton Hill (left) presents the IQA President’s Medal to Andrew Wilson.

Trimble’s Dale Cameron (centre) with Excellence in Innovation Award recipients Michael Benic (left) and Malcolm Sawers.

Prof Andrew Harris (Laing O’Rourke) discussed numerous innovations in the construction materials space.

There was a truly carnival atmosphere as delegates arrived at Luna Park for the Komatsu gala dinner.


Futurist Chris Riddell on stage.


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