Leading up to the AQA/IOQ conference this year, young industry professionals from Australia were hosted in a week of seminars and networking in the North Island.
THE GROUP REPORTS that the best part of the tour was meeting and networking with new people from different industries, countries and experiences, and suggest it should be an annual event.
Three South Africans were among the 10 Australians on a IQA Young Members Network’s (YMN) international study tour of Auckland and Hamilton.
Clint Hart, from the Kulpara Quarry in South Australia, called the tour “professional and well organised” with everything running smoothly.
“All the quarry tours were fantastic and everybody was so accommodating.”
Kaitlyn Duckworth, of Weir Minerals in NSW, says the group was made up of 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, assisted IQA CEO Paul Sutton in organising the tour, and joined the second leg of the Kiwi tour.
The tour started with a visit to Otuataua Stonefields and extensive stone walls that have stood the test of time.
The tour team also visited two of the largest sites in Auckland – Winstone’s Hunua Quarry and Stevenson’s Drury Quarry, large greywacke deposits extracting upwards of two million tonnes per annum between them.
They also visited the Redbull Powder Company, the largest explosives supplier here with a 65 percent market share, which operates Toprock Drilling, with several new Sandvik drills.
Te Mata Quarry and Windfarm provided an opportunity to see a co-operative development project up close. This quarry started out as a small council pit and received a large boost when the windfarm was developed. Around 300,000 tonnes have been sourced from the quarry over 18 months, including the concrete aggregate for the 1000-tonne bases for each wind turbine.
Kiwi regulatory environment
Ryan Messer says the tour was a great educational experience considering the changes we are experiencing in our 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, he says.
“I have always been a strong advocate for ongoing professional development. It is particularly great for the IOQ institute to be able to provide a platform for the industry to meet the regulator’s requirements.
“I believe New Zealand 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.”
Tristan Throup, of Penrice Quarry and Mineral in South Australia, also thinks we have made considerable leaps forward in how we manage safety and compliance across the quarrying industry.
“It was good to see the industry’s acceptance, support and focus towards these changes.”
Tim Skyes, of Boral in NSW, was also impressed by the innovative technology that was going into static and heavy mobile equipment in our industry and noted all aggregates have to be washed prior to leaving the gate, and material class sizes for road bases are different, with roads built for a five-year life.
Others noted there is more demand for washed 65mm aggregate product here than in Australia, and the demand for a product as a result of earthquakes was “eye-opening”.
Also, some of our quarries can only mine down as far as eight metres, yet the country knocks out 50 million tonnes of aggregate a year.