Porter Press Extra: Rock Trade Industries

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  • Earthmovers & Excavators

[SPONSORED CONTENT] At first glance, when you’re a major quarry company extracting material from the ground, the idea of ‘futureproofing’ might seem a little at odds with your central reason for being. Well, nobody told Queensland’s Rock Trade Industries. It’s all about the future.

The Hyundai 380LC-9 in action

Established 12 years ago by Allan Payne, Rock Trade Industries now operates across three quarry sites around 100km inland from Brisbane at Helidon and Withcott, both on the outskirts of Toowoomba.

While the Withcott hard rock quarry is a site the company has recently taken over and spent the last 12 months bringing up to operational standard, the bulk of Rock Trade Industries’ output comes from their largescale sandstone quarry at Helidon.

Sandstone plays a big part in the history of Southern Queensland, with many of Brisbane’s most elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings rendered in the stuff.

While the 1920s saw the last sandstone consignments extracted by hand, quarry sites like Rock Trade Industries’ central operation have been in use since the 1860s.

Even here at Helidon – and with so much history underfoot – the company’s New Product & Business Development Manager, Greg Lennox, says they’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of the life of the site.

The Hyundai HL780-9 wheel loader has plenty of grunt

"We’re about 30m into the ground at the quarry now, so there is probably still 175m further to go. But even though we have decades-worth of usable material here, we have always been very focused on both our remediation strategy and working as efficiently and sustainably as possible in the meantime," he says.

"Basically, quarrying is a disruptive industry – there’s no two ways about it. But utilising everything, being as innovative with the products and by-products you’re working with as you can be and using equipment that allows you to put your best foot forward, are all vital components of operating successfully in this industry."

Rock Trade Industries’ frontline ‘high cycle’ fleet is predominantly made up of Hyundai machinery, sourced through distributor Porter Equipment. In all, the company run 10 machines from the Korean manufacturer; a mix of big Hyundai HL770-9 and HL780-9 wheel loaders, alongside mid-range Hyundai R320LC-9 and R380LC-9 tracked crawler excavators.

Like the actual material being extracted, 95 per cent of the machine fleet is situated at the main Helidon quarry, although as the Withcott facility comes online, several units will be shifted there over time.

Greg says he has been impressed with the Hyundai mobile plant the company is running. While factors such as ergonomic cabs, available power, bucket volumes and mechanical durability are easy boxes to tick, running a heavy equipment fleet of this size still needs to measure up against the overriding principles the company operates by.

Hyundai HL780-9 loading aggregate ready for transport

"We pride ourselves in being very innovative, but also very transparent in how we operate. If we say we strive to work in a particular way, that’s what we’ll do. Our basic philosophy has always been ‘People, Planet, Profit’, in that order.

"For me, the biggest benefit of running new equipment from Hyundai has been the reduction of fuel burn on our ‘high cycle’ fleet. These are big machines doing big hours, but despite this we have seen a dramatic decrease in diesel usage; down from around 60-litres per hour to just 27-litres per hour.

"We want to be seen as a company that works as sustainably as possible within the parameters of our core business, and it’s factors like that that really make a difference," says Greg.

The machines certainly do work hard. Greg says that sandstone mining is tough going because there is generally so much wastage in extracting the basic mineral. For every thousand tons of extracted material, a 15-20 per cent usable return is the reality.

This is where the futureproofing comes in.

The rockbreaker attached to a Hyundai 250LC-9

Greg says that Rock Trade Industries has invested intensely in material research around sustainable utilisation of every component of the sandstone extraction process. Greg believes the sand found inland from the eastern seaboard of Queensland to be among the purest in the world; extracting quartz from the basic aggregate being something the company has worked hard to perfect over time.

Furthermore, Rock Trade Industries is actively working with the University of Southern Queensland on a large geopolymer research project. Greg explains that geopolymers are inorganic materials that bond non-crystalline substances; essentially the glue that holds sandstone together.

The company’s work in this field has led to international interest from study groups looking for more efficient ways to make cement. And there are plenty of other uses for this product besides.

"Our accountability to the public, to industry and to our stakeholders – both within the quarrying industry and beyond – means that we need to be very careful about our machine choices," says Greg.

"We have had delegations visit us from universities and research institutes in the United States, Korea and Japan, to name a few. Yes, these delegations are coming here to Helidon to see what we’re doing from a product diversification point-of-view. But having new machinery that is considered to be a cut above is a compelling part of the way we conduct ourselves as a responsible and accountable operation.

A Hyundai 235LCR-9 with grabber attachment makes short work of heavy handling

"And, of course, the Hyundai machinery we are running has proven itself while doing the hard yards every day so that our company remains capable of meeting customer expectations. At the end of the day – and above all the scientific research – we need to make sure our families can put food on the table and that our company helps sustain our local community.

"Through Porter Equipment, Hyundai machinery gives us the value and ability to not only do business day-to-day, but also to help us establish the next chapter in our business’s story. And the next chapter is something we’re certainly pretty excited about."


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