Young Members complete NZ study tour

Three South Africans joined 10 Australians on the IQA Young Members Network’s (YMN) international study tour of Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand from 14 to 21 July.

Clint Hart, of Kulpara Quarry in South Australia, said the three-day seminar was “professional and well organised” with everything “running smoothly”.

“All the quarry tours were fantastic and everybody was so accommodating to have us. The YMN tour was great and everyone got along well on the trip,” Hart said.

Kaitlyn Duckworth, of Weir Minerals in NSW, said: “The tour group definitely made the tour overall the best part. There was a mixture of quarry managers, operators, engineers and salespeople, who all got along really well.”

YMN co-ordinator Ryan Messer, of MQG Group in Victoria, concurred that the group bonded well, adding that the tour was “a perfect example” of the IQA’s vision of “educating and connecting the extractive industry”.

Messer assisted IQA CEO Paul Sutton in organising the tour, and was one of the liaison officers overseas. He missed the first leg of the tour, and Carl Morandy stood in for him.

Morandy, of Ausrocks in Queensland,said the visit to Otuataua Stonefields was an interesting starting point, with the key points of interest being the remnant volcanoes and extensive stone walls that have stood the test of time.

“The methodology of quarrying has certainly progressed, with the area exposed at the Otuataua Stonefields probably representing the surface area for one year’s production of quarry materials for the current Auckland market,” Morandy said.

The tour team visited two of the largest sites in Auckland – Winstone’s Hunua Quarry and Stevenson’s Drury Quarry. These are large greywacke deposits extracting upwards of two million tonnes per annum with the latest technological advances.

They also visited the Red Bull Powder Company – the largest explosives supplier in NZ, with a 65 per cent market share. The company also runs Toprock Drilling, which operates several new age Sandvik drills that employ drilling information to provide critical inputs to blast design.

“Te Mata Quarry and Windfarm was a great opportunity to see a co-operative development,” Morandy said. “The quarry started out as a small council pit that was then expanded by the owner into a small quarry operation. The project then received a large boost when the windfarm was developed.”

Around 300,000 tonnes has been sourced from the quarry over 18 months, including the concrete aggregate for the 1000-tonne bases for each turbine.

Regulatory environment

Messer said the tour was a great educational experience, considering the changes NZ was experiencing in its regulatory system, with demand for certificates of competency and professional development requirements.

“I really like this system and think it is something we could certainly get behind back here in Oz,” Messer said. “I have always been a strong advocate for ongoing professional development. It is particularly great for the Institute to be able to provide a platform for the industry to meet the regulator’s requirements.

“I believe NZ is leading the way from a regulatory front but the current operating, safety systems and emergency management practices are possibly slightly behind that of Australian standards. That being said, they clearly have a plan in place and are working very hard at improving this across the nation and I wouldn’t be surprised that they surpass us soon,” he added.

Tristan Throup, of Penrice Quarry and Mineral in South Australia, said NZ had made considerable leaps forward in how it managed safety and compliance across its quarrying industry. It was good to see the industry’s acceptance, support and focus towards these changes.

Tim Skyes, of Boral in NSW, was impressed by the innovative technology that was going into static and heavy mobile equipment in the industry.

In New Zealand, there are different approaches and solutions – all the aggregates have to be washed prior to leaving the gate and material class sizes for road base are different, with roads built for a five-year life.

“There seems to be more demand for a washed 65mm agg product in NZ than Australia, and the demand for product as a result of earthquakes was eye-opening,” Duckworth said. “Some quarries can only mine down as far as eight metres (8m) and the country is achieving about 50 million tonnes per year.”

The delegates agreed that the tour provided great networking opportunities.

“The best part of the tour was meeting and networking with new people from different industries, countries and experiences,” Hamish Weston said.

“It was an amazing experience and a joy to share it with such a great group of people,” Ryan Low of Hy-Tec Industries in Northern Territory said.

“Big thanks to all. Bring on the next tour! It needs to be an annual event!” Ben Willcox said.

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