Porter Press Extra: M.A.S. Contractors/Southern Traxcavator Services

By: Randall Johnston, Photography by: Randall Johnston

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  • Earthmovers & Excavators

[SPONSORED CONTENT] Western Australia’s M.A.S Contractors/Southern Traxcavator Services director Marc Veccia, his wife Sharon, son Daniel along with a few good men have carved out a nice little niche breaking granite and providing other highly specialist services across some of the state’s biggest stone quarries.

The Hyundai 380LC-9 with rock breaker attached to break granite boulders

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It has taken over 20 years and a lot of hard yakka, but after going into business for himself in 1995, Marc and a couple of his trusted operators started providing wet hire on some major highway upgrade projects and from there went on to utilise his background and existing relationships to break into providing key services for the major stone quarry operators.

Marc has three Hyundai Excavators; two R380LC-9s and an R480LC-9.

He’s running a Hyundai R380LC-9 purchased from Porter Equipment’s Perth branch with a massive rock breaker attached to break granite boulders at the huge granite quarry site Earthmovers & Excavators Magazine visited, located about an hour’s drive from Perth city recently.

He has the R480LC-9 there too, but finds the R380RC-9 ideally sized for the more detailed rock breaking work that he’s currently doing. Marc’s second R380LC-9 is currently being used by his son Daniel at a basalt stone quarry in Bunbury. Here, trucks are going out constantly at the minute, carting some of the granite he breaks, in order to be used to build a sea wall along the Western seaboard.

This is kind of rock breaking is undoubtedly highly specialised work and requires granite boulders to be broken into a wide range of quite specific sizes and there aren’t that many operators who are able to do this to measure.

Marc describes this granite shattering work as about the toughest test you can give an excavator and that the replacement parts that his Porter Equipment technician (who conducts regular maintenance checks) has had to replace on the R380LC-9 and R480LC-9 as ‘minimal and fairly cosmetic’.

M.A.S. Contractors undertake specialised breaking and sorting work in about eight of West Australia’s biggest quarries

"The service that we get from him and our territory manager Aaron Barclay at Porter Equipment in Perth is really good, any issues and they respond straight away and it’s just easy and allows us to get on with what we do.

"We have had our first R380LC-9 for seven or eight years now, it’s done 9,000 hours of solid rock breaking and still going strong. Our second R380LC-9 is just over five years old and 6,000-odd hours into service life. Both have been extremely reliable.

"Every machine is going to have issues from time to time, especially when you’re doing this kind of work, but it all comes back to how quickly they can get you back on deck and Porter have been great in that regard.

"We even had a huge 10-tonne boulder come loose and impact the cabin on the R380-LC9 a few years back and, with a full cabin replacement, it still worked fine and no other parts of the machine were affected at all, which I thought was pretty incredible considering the force of the impact at the time - you could still open the door, operator unharmed, displaying the safety aspect in design currently in machinery."

The R380LC-9 has a 296hp, six cylinder Cummins QSM engine and powerful and efficient hydraulics to provide the force and downward pressure that is required when splitting granite. The R480LC-9 has even more power with 357hp, and can be fitted with a larger breaker – which comes in handy for the really heavy rock splitting jobs.

"We measure the fuel we are using and considering the heavy kind of work we do, the fuel consumption is really low, everything is measured at these sites and that’s definitely something that we and other people have noticed and commented on, and that’s great because it keeps our operating costs down. Also I find them quite responsive and that’s really important when using a rock breaker attachment, you’ve got to sort of ‘read the rock’ to know which way and how it’s going to split and achieve the specific sizes you’re after, but you also need a good machine that reacts properly to the movements of the operator in the cabin."

Marc says that for the heavy kind of work he does, the fuel consumption is really low

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"We’re not in an easy game, the rock breaking is hard work and I run pretty big breakers."

The team has worked on some major projects. Marc and his crew did all the sorting and sizing of rock for Boral when they were doing the work on the development at Barrow Island, 50 kilometres northwest off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia a few years back. They now have a reputation for specialised granite sourcing, sorting and breaking work all along the West Coast.

"We did all the sorting and sizing for the Burrow Island at Boral’s Orange Grove quarry.

"We had the Hyundai R380LC-9 in there doing the actual breaking and loading trucks.

"You’ve gotta be very careful when loading granite boulders into truck & trailers otherwise you’re just going to demolish the tippers. These boulders that we load can be up to a couple of tonne each, it’s not like aggregate where you just sort of pour it in and off they go."

Marc started out in 1995 with just one machine; a Cat 953 Traxcavator and one other operator.

"I was an engineer in the Army originally and then went on to work on a lot of different major civil construction projects on the east coast in my younger days working for a lot of different people.

M.A.S. Contractors has had the 380LC-9 for seven or eight years and is still going strong

"I spent many years in Canberra on a Grader doing Parliament House and working on the last sections of the Hume Highway, I lived in Geelong for a number of years. I worked at the Anglesea coal mine and still support the Cats in the AFL!

"After we moved over here to the West Coast and I decided to go out on my own we sort of started out doing roads and doing big land clearing operations, but have been working with the quarries over here since about 1997 and we now do specialised breaking and sorting work at about eight of the biggest quarries in WA."

These include a mix of granite, basalt and quartz quarries stretching for hundreds of kilometres up and down the West Coast.

Quarry and past and present project locations include The Lakes (BGC Quarries), Mt Barker; Bunbury (both operated by Hansons); Bunbury (Holcim); Byford (WA Limestone); Byford (Hansons); Red Hill (Hansons) Orange Grove (Boral) and a quartzite mine at Moora (Simcoa).

Marc and his team are excited about what 2019 will bring. With demand for granite showing no signs of slowing and demand for specialised granite materials going through the roof, they are well positioned to make the most of these opportunities as the Western Australian economy now starts to reclaim its former glory albeit in a more sustainable fashion.

This family-owned and operated business has built its reputation on service and reliability, working along with the quarries to build a good business relationship to benefit  both parties.


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