The bucket list

MAKING ground engaging tools has made Keech Australia its good name. But it does not want to stop there. It wants to go the whole hog, or should that be bucket? Supply Side by Noel Dyson
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A Keech mechanical bucket

Noel Dyson

To do this the company has created a business unit called Keech Mining Supplies. This joins the other two Keech business units, Keech Castings and Bendigo Pattern Makers.

Keech Mining Supplies business manager Brad Clark told Mining News Premium the business would primarily focus on the underground mining bucket market.

“We’re on the front end of the bucket with Keech Castings and ground engaging tools.

“[With Keech Mining Supplies] we’re moving backwards. Now we’re looking after the whole lot of the bucket.”

One of the core focuses of the Keech Mining Supplies is to help customers overcome problems with their buckets.

“If you’re having problems with buckets, we can help,” Clark said.

“We can design buckets to engineer problems out.”

An example of this is work the division did with the Cadia East gold mine near Orange in New South Wales.

“The mine has been using the Keech Armourblade bucket edge protection system for some time, but the lip corners were wearing 30 per cent faster than other parts of the bucket edge due to the environment the loaders are operating in,” Clark said.

“Once we became aware of the issue we were able to discuss solutions with our research and development team, who came up with the idea of redesigning the corner profile and manufacturing the castings from our Keech gold-grade metal, which is extremely hard wearing.

“It’s the first time Armourblade corners have been cast using Keech gold metal and the result has been impressive, with the corners lasting as long as other parts of the bucket edge.”

That product is being commercialised for other mine operations.

“Our focus at the moment is on underground mining,” Clark said.

“We certainly plan to expand into surface mining as well. We have a number of customers that are running both underground and surface equipment.”

The reason for concentrating on the underground is because that is where Keech already has form.

“We have a lot of our product out in the underground at the moment,” Clark said.

“It’s a little bit of a foothold for us.

“Our product in the underground has a good reputation. It makes sense for us to piggyback off that rep.”

Not that Keech has been taking it easy in the surface world.

Clark said the company had a strong partnership with Hitachi, although he admitted things starting getting a bit tricky when they start talking about the larger Hitachi machines.

He said Keech was also concentrating on hard rock mining, where its products have good traction.

That does not, however, rule out a greater push into the coal sector down the track.

One of the benefits Keech brings to its problem-solving approach is the fact that it has its own manufacturing capabilities through its foundry and associated works in Bendigo.

However, it also has set up arrangements with overseas producers to supply buckets.

“We’re in the process of being able to build the bucket ourselves,” Clark said.

“But at the moment there is some work we outsource. We have partnered with companies overseas to build buckets.”

Clark said Keech was about 50% of the way towards being able to build its own buckets.

He said if a customer needed a bucket made up, Keech could do it. But if it was a bulk run to fit out an entire mining fleet, that could prove difficult.