Accommodating growth

NEW South Wales coal fields plus Western Australia’s burgeoning iron ore and oil and gas projects offer fresh growth for an accommodation specialist.
Accommodating growth Accommodating growth Accommodating growth Accommodating growth Accommodating growth

Greg Rowan, senior inspector of mines, Queensland Government Natural
Resources & Mines

Noel Dyson

Looking at The MAC Services Group’s financial results it seems the global financial crisis was but a hiccup.

The financial fury that swept the world might have slowed the group’s plans a bit but when other companies were reporting revenue falls, The MAC posted increases.

In the past month, the accommodation specialist was named the preferred proponent to develop land at Gap Ridge, Karratha, WA, and purchased a development site in Muswellbrook, NSW.

The Karratha site covers 12 hectares and would give The MAC access to the lucrative oil and gas market too. Its submission to the WA Department of Regional Development envisaged a 1180-room facility with associated recreation facilities.

The MAC could have the final terms for the purchase of the land finalised this month.

In NSW, the company bought a development site covering 10 hectares that already has development approval for a 240-room village. Negotiations are underway with a number of potential anchor tenants for the site.

The MAC has made its fortune by identifying and buying suitable land near mining projects, building an accommodation village and the relevant support infrastructure on it, and then managing it. The mining companies enter into contracts with The MAC to house their workers there.

As The MAC chief executive officer Mark Maloney explains, the mining companies are left free to concentrate on running a mine while his company takes care of housing the mine’s workers.

He said the company would assess where the projects were going and look for suitable land in a town nearby.

“We probably start soon after the projects get the final investment decision,” Maloney said.

That way the village is in place for the construction workforce and then the operational workers as the project goes into production.

To create its one-stop-shop approach, The MAC set up a number of subsidiary companies such as The MAC Accommodation, The MAC Development and The MAC Linen Services.

Maloney said this allowed the company to control the quality of its offering.

“By having our own construction arm [The MAC Development] we can make sure we can deliver the villages on time,” he said.

The MAC has six villages in operation. Five are in the Bowen Basin coal fields. The sixth, in Kambalda, WA, marked the company’s first step away from Queensland.

Maloney said the company always looked to site its villages in or near towns. That way, he said, the village inhabitants could become part of the communities they lived in.

The five Queensland villages are in Nebo, Middlemount, Moranbah, Dysart and Coppabella.

Maloney said at 15 years old, Nebo was the company’s oldest village.

That village is undergoing a makeover with some rooms being completely replaced and a new gymnasium installed.

Renovations aside, the company has a strong development pipeline ahead of it. Besides Pilbara and Muswellbrook, The MAC also has land in Gladstone and Wandoan – both with development approvals. It also has an option over a second site in Moranbah.

“We’re concentrated on the key five or six mining hotspots in Australia,” Maloney said.

“It all comes down to dealing with blue chip companies with long-life projects and having low-cost assets.”

Maloney said the company had a strong history in coal but also was looking at iron ore and oil and gas with its Pilbara property.