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High-tech crushers make grade for plant hire group


A trio of tracked crushers, working to very different goals and in varying environments, are making their mark in the North Queensland contract crushing and demolition markets. 

The Markwell Group, a plant and equipment hire provider based in Townsville, last year celebrated 40 years of business. Unfortunately the anniversary celebrations had to be put on hold because of COVID-19 – but in spite of the pandemic, the business has this year continued to build on the foundations that were first established in 1980.

For almost its first two decades of operation, the family-owned business has been renowned for being North Queensland’s largest earthmoving equipment hire specialist. The Markwell Group today offers dry hire equipment ranging from prime movers and body and water trucks through to quarry-spec wheel loaders, articulated dump trucks, graders and excavators, which in turn comprise a full array of attachments – rock-breakers, augers, grabs, shears and pulverisers. It is a fleet that has come a long way, having started in 1980 and considering the company’s first purchase was for a rock-breaking excavator in a project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1989.

In addition to offering dry hire, Markwell Group also makes its highly skilled operators available for wet hire purposes, and offers its customers full machine induction and operator training.

Twenty-three years ago, the Markwell Group diversified into the mobile crushing and screening market. “We bought our first jaw crusher in February 1998,” Gavin Markwell, the founder and managing director of Markwell Group, told Quarry. “The business started as a mixture of contract crushing, dry hire and wet hire crushing units.”

The contract crushing service today accounts for about 30 per cent of the Markwell Group’s business. “We generally campaign crush for other companies – that is, quarries and mine sites that crush aggregates to road base to mining aggregates,” Markwell explained. 

“We operate our own concrete crushing material, building pad material, roadbase, various aggregates. We do concrete crushing for a few of the shires in this region and we contract major quarries including Holcim, Boral, Hanson, as well as the smaller quarries. We’re also at work in Bundaberg, Mount Isa and Cape York at the moment – so within a 1000km radius of Townsville – and occasionally work in PNG.”

Markwell estimates that his company undertakes between 20 and 50 contract crushing jobs per year. “However, the projects range from a few days to six months,” he qualified. “Many projects have run for a year. Our involvement in campaign crushing is either on sites where there are no crushing facilities at all or in quarries where extra assistance/extra production is required. They’ve won a large contract and they can’t service their existing customers as well as complete the large contract, so we come into assist. Sometimes we may be asked to make specialty products.”

While not specifically used by Markwell Group for quarrying, the MR 130 Z can crush rock in addition to C&D materials and recycling.


Markwell’s contract crushing fleet currently comprises 15 mobile crushers (including cones, jaws, and impactors) and screens. Three of those machines are Kleemann mobile crushers: the MR130 Z Evo 2 Mobirex Impactor, the MCO9S Mobicone cone and the MC110 Z Mobicat jaw, all supplied by Wirtgen Australia, a member of the John Deere Group of companies. The MR 130 Z impactor and the MCO9S cone are equipped with recirculating screens, which Markwell said “clip onto the back for quick release”.

The MCO9S cone crusher has a large stroke for maximum crushing capacity that is powered by a powerful diesel-direct drive and regulated by a continuous feed system (CFS) that monitors the crusher fill level, load on the crusher drive, and crusher speed. The MCO9S is fitted with integrated overload and intelligent overload systems, a high performance secondary screening unit and a feeding conveyor which adapts to the fill level of the crusher, resulting in continuous optimal crusher level for maximum performance and a quality final product. From a maintenance perspective, cone liner change-outs are easy and brisk due to the fact of not having a backing compound meaning you will be back crushing sooner with less downtime. Other features include a sliding feed unit for fast set-up, a recirculating conveyor, a metal detector, automatic crusher gap setting and zero-point calculation, and an easy control touch panel that monitors speed, temperature, and pressure. 

The MC110 Z features an extra-long articulated, flattened transition and highly raised crusher jaw, powered by a diesel-direct drive. It features an independent vibrating double-deck pre-screen, which offers effective screening of fine material for optimum final product. Like the MCO9S, it has a CFS which adapts the vibrating feeder and pre-screen frequencies to the crusher level, and a load reduction system (or LRS), which intervenes when the crusher is fed materials outside the permissible range. When the overload is reduced the system adapts to the highest possible output. It also features a crusher unblocking system for short downtimes, a by-pass flap for redirection of materials and a magnetic separator. A control touch panel monitors speed, temperature, and pressure. 

The MC110 Z jaw and the MCO9S cone crushers are used by Markwell Group in quarrying applications, and at time of writing were assisting one of the larger quarrying producers in North Queensland. The MR 130 Z impact crusher is being used in concrete crushing and Markwell joked that it “just loves eating concrete”.

Like the MC110 Z jaw, the MR 130 Z features an independent vibrating double-deck pre-screen. It has a crusher inlet of 1300mm x 900mm and is equipped with a four-bar rotor with C-shaped blow bars for better impact over extended periods. Hydraulic gaps can be set via a touch screen and an integrated overload protection system prevents stoppages, material congestion and downtime. Like the other crushers, the MR 130 Z is fitted with a CFS. A lock and turn safety key transfer system allows work in certain areas only if they are mechanically locked. All components and functions can be controlled via a simple touch control system. The MR 130 Z is also equipped with a secondary screening unit and a magnetic separator to capture metals and sharps.

Markwell said the MR 130 Z impact crusher has impressed him because in concrete crushing applications it effectively doubles for both the cone and the jaw crushers. As he put it, the MR 130 Z essentially “makes the same end product. Previously we made a -100mm product out of the jaw and then crushed that to a -23mm product through the cone. The impactor will go from the feed size of about 500mm to 600mm to -23mm with the use of the recirculating conveyor, in effect making the one product with one machine. It makes the site more efficient because there is one machine doing the job. This machine also has a 2.9m underpan feeder, which means less steel and contaminants are caught, and therefore less damage is done to the belt”.

While he doesn’t use it in quarrying specifically, Markwell said the MR 130 Z has crushed rock in addition to C&D materials and recycling. “You don’t use impactors in high silica contact rock,” he explained. “It’s suitable for basalt and lime. You just have to pick what you’re crushing.” 

The MC110 Z features an extra-long articulated, flattened transition and highly raised crusher jaw.


One of the factors that persuaded Markwell to buy his Kleemann mobile trio was the fuel economy. He estimates his machines, which are three years’ old, would use about 30 per cent less fuel than the rest of his mobile fleet. For example, a 40-tonne impactor in Markwell’s inventory was consuming about 38 litres of fuel per hour compared to only 25 litres per hour on his 60-tonne MR 130 Z impactor.

David Dixon is the Kleemann sales manager in Queensland for Wirtgen Australia and has assisted Markwell Group with the set-up and ongoing maintenance of the Kleemann trio. He told Quarry that this fuel saving is common of the entire Kleemann mobile crushing suite. 

“The MR 130 Z impactor, the MCO9S cone and the MC110Z jaw have efficient and high performance diesel-direct drives for minimal fuel consumption per tonne of end product and high performance electric drives for chutes, screens and conveyors,” Dixon explained. “The generator runs the chutes, screens and conveyors, as opposed to the engine, which means there’s less risk of hydraulic leaks, and low fuel consumption. Our entire crushing fleet, not just those three machines, has those features.

“The other features of the machines are the continuous feed system – the CFS – and probes that monitor chamber depth, and when it’s crushing maintain a constant feed, maintain the belt, maintain a constant feed,” Dixon added. “The machine is running at its maximum efficiency all the time. It’s operating non-stop and it will slow down and speed up accordingly where there are some stop-starts.

“Another feature on the MR130 Z is optimal material flow,” Dixon said, “so it’s a straight feed, From the feeder to final end product belt the width increases incrementally meaning as material is crushed and bulks up it flows better through the machine. By total throughput, this helps with less fuel consumption, reduced life and less congestion.”

Dixon described his role at Wirtgen Australia as an after sales and customer liaison. “The sale doesn’t just stop with the availability of the machine,” he said. “My background is in the general hire industry offering service on demand, 24/7.”

His feedback is that Markwell Group is happy with the performance of the machine. “Gavin’s feedback is positive, we answer his questions, we get back in a reasonable time frame, and nothing really is a problem with Wirtgen. We have quarterly meetings in Queensland, and we are constantly talking to Markwell about how we can improve our service to them.”

Markwell has been very pleased with the output and overall performance of the Kleemann mobile crushing plant, and also with Wirtgen Australia’s  aftermarket support. 

“The machines work very well,” he said. “Kleemann is very supportive of the product – and all the parts we’ve needed so far have been on the ground in Australia.”

As for those overdue 40th anniversary celebrations, Markwell joked that he still has memorabilia in stock that is now a year old. However, he is hoping to still organise a function in the near future that celebrates the milestone.

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