PUR injection specialist to swell contractor ranks

GROUND Consolidation national sales manager Brian Munro is the first to admit now might not be the ideal time for a specialist underground coal mining contractor to be starting out in the business.

Staff Reporter

While the recent demise of Southland mine contractor Colrok in New South Wales attracted headlines, others in the industry have been finding the going tough. According to Munro, rationalisation in the sector has left a few dominant, larger players, and only a “few smaller companies”. However, the North Wyong-headquartered Ground Consolidation is keen to add to this number.

The Australian agent for Bevedol/Bevedan polyurethane resin injection products and systems — first introduced here in the 1980s — Ground Consolidation has been expanding its range of secondary ground support products and expertise with a view to providing a wider range of services to the coal industry. The company is also pursuing opportunities in hard rock mining.

Munro said the collapse of Colrok had left “quite a big hole” in the market. Bevedol/Bevedan product manufacturer CarboTech, the German company which owns 76% of Ground Consolidation, recently increased its ownership level with a view to expanding the company’s activities in Australia and the Pacific Rim. Contracting work is the main focus of this expansion, which is aimed at doubling Ground Consolidation’s current size.

“Market research has indicated to us that the (coal) industry is not looking for the lowest price, but the best value service,” Munro said.

“Included in this evaluation process is the contractor’s safety record, dedication to high and accountable standards of occupational health and safety, a comprehensive range of appropriate and well maintained equipment, and high levels of professional site management.

“The restructuring of our ownership means Ground Consolidation now has the resources to grow in the contract mining field.”

Munro said because the company had essentially been a polyurethane (PUR) injection company up until now, it had been engaged primarily in a “highly reactive” type of business. That is, if a longwall face collapsed or a roof failed, Ground Consolidation would get an emergency call to provide its state-of-the-art PUR products and services to restore production or infrastructure development. Losses from production delays could very quickly be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Rather than seeing success in this area as a plus, Munro is aware that there may be a perception that the company is a “quick fix artist”

“It is anticipated that some time may be required to convince the industry that this is not the case, and that we have the equipment, management, manpower and safety systems in place to provide a long-term service to any mine,” he said.

Munro said Ground Consolidation also was not setting out to be a competitor to fully-fledged underground mining contractors. Its focus would be on secondary ground support and general outbye services.

As well as PUR, the company also manufactures and supplies the Rockfast range of cementitious grouts. These were originally sourced via Blue Circle Special Cements UK. Munro said production levels had exceeded what were initially considered very optimistic targets.

“In our experience the two forms of grouts (resin and cement) complement each other in many applications,” he said.

“A particularly good example is longhole injection with Blue Circle’s 650 and 900 grade microfine cements. This type of work can be performed from the gateroad of a longwall block, with the cement grout specifically directed to fault zones.

“The need for PUR is greatly reduced when these zones are mined, but when required resin injection can be employed in a very controlled manner.

“It is now Ground Consolidation’s aim to be recognised as a major supplier of high quality and highly effective cement grouts to the mining industry, and to continue employing new and innovative approaches to strata control problems.”

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