Digging the returns

Scotbar Proprietary is ramping up its Waterfall Quarries operation in Helidon, 100 kilometres west of Brisbane, to cope with increase sandstone demand locally and globally.Site senior executive Allen Payne said Kobelco excavators had played a major role in the sandstone venture’s success.“Waterfall Quarries was a pre-existing operation in poor condition when we took over two years ago,” he said.Payne said the operation needed to become more efficient and one way was through looking at the equipment it used.The company settled on a Kobelco SK250-8 excavator after researching and testing a number of machines. Since that first purchase 18 months ago Scotbar has added another seven machines – all coming from its local Kobelco dealership Chesterfield Australia.The quarry has three Kobelco SK135SR excavators, four Kobelco SK350LC-8s and the SK250-8. It also has six other excavators but as sandstone output rises it plans to standardise its fleet with Kobelcos.“Traditional recovery rates in sandstone mining and quarrying are quite low, we try to use all of the sandstone material and are looking at producing 100,000 tonnes a year in different sandstone products by 2016,” Payne said.“In the next three to five years we’ll need 18 machines. Kobelco excavators have a far better capacity to adapt to this type of quarry work compared to other brands we’ve tried.“Quarry work is extremely hard and it sorts out the equipment that can handle it very quickly. The machines do a ‘real’ hour of work every hour.“The Kobelco excavators have not faulted. Every morning they get a pre-start check then your turn the key and off you go. Some other machines we’ve tried aren’t so robustly built and have had cracked and broken booms.”Payne said the machines had proved to be very productive.“We moved from a competitor’s 33-tonne excavator to the Kobelco SK250-8 and it saved us about 35 per cent in operating costs for the same productivity,” he said.“The other machine ran at a lot higher revs, while the Kobelco SK250-8 was virtually idling doing the same job.“In lineal metres we’ve increased production between 25 and 30 per cent across the board. That’s for bulking out, virgin ground and sawing.“We’ve got 16 operators working at the quarry and they all prefer to use the Kobelco excavators because they know they’ll meet their quotas using them.”The company also has managed to make large fuel cost savings thanks to the efficiency of the machines.Scotbar has been exporting dimensional sandstone to China for the past 18 months and the company also has had interest from customers in Japan and England.

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