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Maintenance, Recycling

Taking old, redundant plants to the cleaners

Inoperative and obsolete plant and equipment at quarries and mining sites can take up valuable space, pose health and safety hazards, and be an eyesore. However, as Keith Noyahr reports, the deconstruction and disposal of such equipment is not as complicated as it seems.

Quarry owners are often in a quandary about how to rid their sites of redundant plant and machinery. This can delay investment in state of the art plant and equipment to replace inefficient machines that are eating into profits and draining resources.

M&Q Equipment is one such company that offers a new lease of life for old disused plants or sections of them for spare parts, its sales manager Adam Robson said.

“While one part of the machine may be worn out, making the machine unusable and removed from service, we occasionally can find value in other parts of the machine that can be reused for spare parts,” Robson said.

Other companies recycle the material or sell it as scrap iron. Zebra Metals and Environment Services has been involved in the deconstruction and demolition of extractive plants for nearly three decades and runs six businesses employing 45 staff. Its director Ron Bowes said the company had the equipment and expertise to dismantle oversized plant in a safe and efficient way.

Zebra boasts a modern fleet of 60m3 super tippers and nine prime movers, crewed by “skilled operators”, according to Bowes. Its largest machines include two 45-tonne Hitachi excavators and a range of smaller Hitachi, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Kobelco and Kato excavators. It also has two cranes, dozens of forklifts, front-end loaders and skid steer loaders.

Zebra’s recycling facilities also include an Idromec RB 5000 light gauge and car baler that can transform a car into a beer fridge-sized block in one minute and a SLK 650 Idromec Shear Baler investment, each worth $800,000.

Zebra also has a range of hydraulic shears, grabs and magnets, including the Eriez 7000 series electromagnet and LaBounty MSD scrap shears.

A laydown yard where metal is sorted into piles.
A laydown yard where metal is sorted into piles.

Deconstruction factors

According to Robson and Bowes, when M&Q and Zebra work in partnership, it’s a great “combo” that makes the most sophisticated jobs “a breeze”.

“Adam is very good at remarketing the items for resale back to other quarries and mines,” Bowes said. “M&Q does a lot of reconditioning while we do the demolition and recycling on-site.”

“One of the biggest jobs that we’ve done was completed last month,” Robson said. “We tendered for the purchase and removal of a south-east Queensland quarry plant.”

According to Robson, there were many factors to be considered when decommissioning the crushing and screening plants at the site.

“We engaged Zebra Environmental as the dismantling and removal of this plant was both technical and several storeys high,” Robson said.

The plant in question had been upgraded many times during its 40-plus years. It was struggling past its usable life, and had been replaced by a mobile crushing operation.

“We had on-site inspections by both the local council’s health and safety officer and [Queensland] Department of Mines officers,” Robson said. ”They were extremely pleased with the proactive approach that was taken on all aspects of the plant.”

According to Robson, the job was a total success; he said a small crew completed the job in under the time frame and incident-free.

Bowes concurred that the joint effort brought the desired results. “The most recent collaborative job was estimated to be finished in five weeks, but we finished it in three,” Bowes said.

The quarry operation being discussed requested that it remain anonymous for the purposes of this article but a spokesman did talk to Quarry.

He explained that M&Q Equipment was favoured over competitive tenders because it had a superior knowledge of the job and truly understood the work required to complete it.

“They understood the process involved in dismantling obsolete and old equipment, both in preparation and planning, as was reflected in their tender,” the spokesman said.

“Their previous work showed that they had the expertise and equipment to handle the mining operation job hassle-free.

“For M&Q, health and safety was paramount and together with their sub-contractor they had the competencies to handle the scale of work required,” he added.

The quarry spokesman affirmed that Department of Mines officers approved M&Q and Zebra’s work.

“Overall, they received a clean bill of health,” he said. “[M&Q and Zebra] attended to the preparation and planning well and executed the job in less than the stipulated time. They finished it in 22 days, despite the planned operation of five weeks, with minimal disruption to the site.”

While Zebra Metals and Environmental Services operates principally in Queensland and the Northern Territory, Robson said M&Q Equipment has been removing and purchasing old plant and equipment for the past 15 years from across Australia.

“We have done jobs as far as away as the Kimberley in WA, all the way down to south-western Tasmania, and also in other countries such as Papua New Guinea and New Zealand,” Robson said.

M&Q Equipment has performed jobs for most of the major quarrying operations around Australia, including Holcim, Hanson, various shire councils, and the Neumann Group.

“Our customers are always very pleased with our work,” Robson said. “We have a lot of repeat customers. We get a lot of internal referrals from site to site within the larger companies and that’s how we get a lot of our work.”

Bowes acknowledged that M&Q Equipment is well known in the field, saying Robson has very good contacts and regularly invites Zebra to collaborate on the best jobs.

A Queensland plant before
A Queensland plant before
A Queensland plant during
A Queensland plant during

A Queensland plant after decommissioning
A Queensland plant after decommissioning

Clean-up at Yuleba

Yuleba Minerals manager Brian Klein told Quarry of the recent decommissioning job M&Q Equipment performed for his operation after it commissioned a new washing and screening plant.

Yuleba Minerals no longer has to cope with an idle plant that became an eyesore. Klein said production output on the old plant had dropped from 100,000 tonnes per annum when it began operations to 15,000 tonnes per annum now.

“I give Adam and his team 8½ to nine out of 10 for a very professional way of decommissioning the old plant and clearing the area,” Klein said.

“He was very efficient and finished the job in four to five days. I am quite happy with a professional job done.”

The quarry’s products comprise 98 per cent very high quality silica and decorative stone aggregates. Yuleba Minerals also offers general quarry products such as sand, gravel, aggregate and road base. Concrete batching plants for underground mines use Yuleba sands.

“We supply sand and aggregate and batch the contents up and they are ready to go,” Klein said.

His staff, together with some outside contractors, installed a washing and screening fixed plant manufactured by Trio. Klein said the new plant is “more efficient” and economically viable and “cheaper to run”.


Robson said most quarries just stockpile the old equipment in laydown yards. M&Q has dismantled equipment dating back to the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

“From crushing plant, conveyors, screening plant, sand plant, old mobile equipment, silos and old electrical plant, we do a wide range of jobs that may only need a few small items to complete custom-made plants,” Robson said.

M&Q mostly buys old static plants but has in the past bought some old mobile equipment.

“Most of the time the plant is replaced due to upgrading, but most of the quarries use the gear basically until the ‘wheels fall off’ and that’s when we come in and do what we do best,” he said. “We keep everything that is salvageable, and take it back to our yard for possible resale. The items that are no longer serviceable in any way are recycled as scrap metal.”

Any material that is recyclable is removed and sent to recycling facilities. The very small amount that is left goes to rubbish. The amount, if any, that ends up as landfillis minimal.

“We have found outlets to recycle most items that are found in redundant yards and during dismantling,” Robson added.

However, he emphasised that M&Q Equipment doesn’t get involved in clearing the land of toxins, lubricants or oils that may have leached during the operation. He said he leaves this task up to Zebra.

As regulated waste transporters, Bowes said Zebra exercises “maximum precaution” when obtaining all of the required regulator approvals for deconstruction and clean-up, including undertaking Queensland Job Safety Analysis (JSA) Design Risk Management processes.

“We do a risk assessment with a week of planning. We find the people to do our risk assessment and we take all our spill equipment and hazard gear including pumping gear to the site,” Bowes added, referring to the clean-up of oils and fluids and hydraulic hoses.

“We do a good job cleaning up, leaving everything cleaner than before we undertook the job,” he said.

Robson said most quarries pay to have a company come in and remove old plant and equipment and most of the time the equipment is cut up for recycling.

“We, however, reuse as much as we can and refurbish and resell the equipment. Hence, the reason we are able, in most cases, to purchase the old unwanted equipment,” Robson added.

He said his company is a one-stop shop where they buy the old equipment, scrap the unusable equipment and remove the rubbish leaving the quarry or site clean.

For quarry owners keen to decommission old plants, the dismantling and disposal of material in a safe way is too easy for the specialists. It’s not as daunting a prospect as it used to be.

Keith Noyahr • Staff Journalist

Keith Noyahr is a staff journalist at Quarry magazine.

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Tuesday, 16 July, 2019 2:30pm
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