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IQA Young Members enjoy rare visit to construction materials sites

Young Members


Members of the IQA’s South Australian Young Members Network have recently had a rare opportunity to view two key businesses at work: Penrice Quarry and the Adelaide Brighton Cement manufacturing plant.

After a year of no events for the IQA’s South Australian Young Members Network due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very welcoming and refreshing for the young members to regroup on 14 May. Eleven members joined the day’s tour beginning at Penrice Quarry and Mineral, located in the heart of the famous Barossa Valley wine region. This site is a major supplier of quarry materials used in the construction, building and chemical industries.

The focus of the tour was to follow the entire cement manufacturing process through, beginning at raw material extraction and finishing at cement packaging and distribution. To cap off the day, Young Members Network (YMN) members visited Groundwork Plus’ SA office for an insightful business overview and fantastic hospitality.

The Penrice site tour began with a presentation delivered by the quarry operations manager Michael Close. He gave attendees an overview of the site and its activities, including a brief history dating back to the 1950s. While the site provides a vast range of typical quarry products, it also has number of niche markets and products that the company produces. These products are particularly dependent on the site’s chemical make-up, with their end use going to glass manufacture, animal nutrition products, agricultural limes, and cement manufacture.

SA Young Members concluded their busy day with a visit to Groundwork Plus’s Adelaide HQ.

The latter is where the theme of the tour would pick up, with the team from Penrice Quarry being able to show how the extraction of raw materials for cement manufacture is conducted. Drill and blast supervisor Craig Taylor provided an overview of the drill and blast process and then laboratory and quality supervisor John Shultz explained the process for testing and approving the materials for production or despatch. The tour group moved out of the site’s processing areas (fixed and mobile) and then out into the pit. The viewing platform provides an excellent vantage point across the Barossa.

Cement manufacture

The next stage of the tour was to visit the Adelaide Brighton Cement (ABC) special products plant located in Angaston. This plant is home to Brightonlite cement manufacture. The YMN party was met by shift supervisor Luke Dal-Bello and process engineer Jay Samonte who provided an insightful tour of the site and a first-hand view of the cement manufacturing process. All attendees were intrigued by the complex process.

Luke and Jay were able to summarise each of the major steps in cement manufacture and the YMN party was able to see how raw materials arrive and are then refined further for the appropriate kiln feed. This included the blending of the correct raw materials to achieve the correct chemical composition before being fed into the kilns for the burning process.

ABC uses both wet and dry kiln processes, and it was interesting to hear the differences between the two and also the challenges of achieving the correct balance of raw materials and chemical composition. YMN members were able to experience and feel the heat generated off the rotating kilns while Jay and Luke explained the fuel used for the firing process, and some of the intricacies of keeping a kiln running efficiently, particularly given its age.

Finally, the group viewed the final stage of cement manufacture with the grinding stage of clinker, producing the final finished product which is despatched through pneumatic tankers or packaged in an automated bagging process. 

These site tours gave the YMN members great insight into both the critical linkage of the supply of raw materials from the quarry perspective, and then the use of the raw materials in the production and supply of Brightonlite cement.

To finish the day, YMN members visited the Groundwork Plus office in Nuriootpa. Director James Rowe gave an overview into the Groundwork Plus business and the range of services it offers to support the extractive industries, and provided some fine hospitality.

The YMN is grateful to Penrice Quarry, the ABC Angaston plant, and Groundwork Plus for allowing its members to visit their sites. The SA YMN group looks forward to hosting more events in the future and creating more opportunities for members to meet, network, and learn together.

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