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Beyond the surface with Porter Group

It’s no secret that Australian mine sites have exacting standards – and one NSW contractor has found their equipment from Porter Group goes well beyond meeting them.

The coal mines of New South Wales’ Hunter Valley have long been the site of hard work – and with Australia’s energy needs at a significant high, an extended shutdown is not an option.

Since its foundation in 2005, the team at Branxton-based A-Plus Contracting and Poly Welding has set out to provide the mining industry with a comprehensive contracting service that is both professional and cost-effective.

These two Hyundai HX300L excavators form part of A-Plus Contracting and Poly Welding’s fleet

Company founder Andrew Hughes explains that this approach has taken A-Plus well beyond mining alone – with the company carrying out work for power stations, industrial estate developers, wineries and state and federal governments.

“With our professionally maintained, modern fleet of plant & equipment together with our highly motivated and trained staff we offer our valued clients peace of mind, knowing that their works will be completed on time, on budget and to the highest quality without the worry of downtime or delays,” he says.

It’s an impressive mission statement, and A-Plus general manager Damian Hamilton says the company has seen a lot of growth during his time there.

“We’ve more than doubled in size in the six and a half years I have been with the company, and it is our service providers like Porter Equipment that helped us to grow to that level,” he says.

With operations as far out as Muswellbrook and down NSW’s Central Coast, the company’s fleet of Hyundai excavators and front-end loaders is well travelled.

A-Plus currently has a 14-tonne R140W-9 excavator and two each of the HX300L excavators and HL780-9 wheel loaders on the books, as well as the compact R17Z-9 excavator and an accompanying trailer package.

That’s in addition to its line-up of dozers, graders, rollers and watercarts from other providers, Hughes adds.

Hyundai HL780-9 wheeled loaders

Hamilton explains that much of this equipment, especially the Hyundais, are used to carry out above-ground maintenance work on roads and laydown areas across the region’s coal mines.

This can also include one-off rehabilitation and drainage works, including the supply and installation of water transfer pipelines, as well as ongoing maintenance and repair contracts.

One of these is a coal seam gas drainage contract that the company has been carrying out since 2016.

“Our job is to supply and install all the above ground infrastructure including construction of roads and hard stands for drill pads and installation of all the infrastructure and pipework for the gas drainage network – which is a very large and complex arrangement of pipes and valves to extract the gas from the underground workings,” Hamilton says.

“I’ve got a team of guys doing all the gas drainage pipe work in infrastructure and civil work, and there’s another team of guys who deal with the civil maintenance work at mine infrastructure area… keeping the roads and conveyor belts and all the infrastructure in good clean working order.”

But for this equipment to carry out the work at these mine sites, it must first meet the exacting safety requirements that these workplaces enforce – which Hamilton says often goes well above the regular Australian standards.

These range from additional high visibility protection and reflective striping to battery isolation, additional thermal protection and burst protection on hoses, as well as alarms within the cabin of the excavator.

“Porter does a very good job of upgrading the equipment to meet the specifications which is required by the mining industry, which is over and above the Australian standard for the equipment and the safety standards on the equipment,” Hamilton says.

A PLus’ loaders on route to the mine site

Another safety control that Porter is now providing is height and flue technology – which disables any part of the excavator from going above a certain height, to ensure no power lines are compromised.

“It’s not mandatory on the excavators but it is certainly highly sought after,” Hamilton says.

A-Plus will employ many of these new features on its next arrival – a 17-tonne R170W-9 excavator, due to arrive on site in the next couple of weeks and set to work providing services at a new open cut mine in the Hunter Valley.

Hamilton says the three-year contract will see A-Plus carry out maintenance on haul roads at the site – fixing potholes and helping to segregate the heavy vehicles from other traffic.

“We’re basically continuously doing road maintenance to build the roads to a safe standard for the heavy vehicles,” he says.

In addition to this, A-Plus will also be providing support to the mine’s tailings management system – helping to maintain and keep the pumps and pipes operational.

Hyundai R140W-9 wheeled excavator

Getting the 17 tonne model is well suited to this kind of work, Hamilton says, because the machine will be smaller and more manoeuvrable.

“It is a smaller machine, it is a wheeled excavator so it has got the agility to move around the site a lot easier,” he says.

“It’s primarily going to be assisting with the large size or large diameter pipe work that we’re going to be doing… it’s going to be a long-term commitment.”

Happily, Hamilton says, its own long-term commitment with Porter Group has meant they can be assured of long-term support.

“Their service with the equipment they provide is good, the quality of equipment and the upgrades they do to the mining equipment is good… and the after sales service has been quite good as well,” he says.

“Coming to site and doing a service on the machines has been good and done in a timely manner –  and good quality as well.”

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