27 June 2017

Poor access, increased demand puts pressure on aggregate supply

INDUSTRY COMMENT: Chris Gray, General Manager, MIMICO

The country’s district and regional councils must improve their planning processes if they are to avoid the aggregate shortages now being seen in Auckland, the general manager of a leading equipment dealer says.

MIMICO general manager Chris Gray says all industries in all regions around the country are very busy, putting immense pressure on quarries and their operators.

His personal view is that this is due to the difficulty in gaining access to resources, and in particular the incredible demand from across the Auckland region.

“It’s been in the background for a number of years and hasn’t really been resolved by anyone,” Gray says.

“It’s putting more and more pressure on existing resources.”

The Matamata-based family business has been supplying equipment, machinery and plant to the mining and quarrying sector since 1989 and presently employs 80 staff.

With plenty of projects around the county currently underway and others on the horizon, Gray says the industry is going to be busy for at least another five years.

“But, unless it becomes easier to get more and more greenfield sites operational, there’s a big problem brewing for the country.”

Gray cites regulation and access to resources as major hurdles.

“A lot of it is councils needing to work closer with the likes of the AQA to ensure that resources are available and the cost and time it takes to consent new quarry operations is not prohibitive,” he says. 

“The quarrying industry as individual operators and under the AQA banner have done a lot of good work in the past when it comes to policy planning and taking an active role in the regional council plan review process, but I still believe it’s not as high up the agenda as it should be.”

Gray gives the example of the lack of quarries in Auckland and operators in Waikato and Northland trucking in aggregates for the growing city. “Auckland will need more quarries producing millions of tonnes a year to meet future demand.

“When the current big producing quarries come to an end, where are the next ones? Soon the Waikato and Northland will be supplying all of Auckland, at great expense to the tax payer”

National service

The company has grown to have four branches nationally, supported regionally by local service agents. Gray says its Takanini branch in Auckland has potential to overtake its Matamata operation as the chain’s largest in the next few years.

MIMICO plans to open two more branches and employ up to 20 more staff over the next two years.

Gray says the progress the business has made can be attributed to supplying customers with high quality, market leading machinery. To back this up, MIMICO carries millions of dollars’ worth of spare parts for the machinery to minimise customer downtime if a fault were to occur, Gray says.

“We intend to be market leading in the service and support of our products. That’s what we’re striving for.”

He also credits the company’s success to its employees.

“We’re trying to equip them with the training, tools and resources they need to be successful in what they do,” Gray says.

“We have monthly refresher training on products, we also run external training for our customers. It’s a really big part of what we do.”

The company’s ‘equipping your success’ strategy has led to market leading brands from around the world requesting MIMICO carry their products.

Premium products

Currently, MIMICO carries Kobelco excavators, Metso screens and crushers, Kawasaki wheel loaders, Moxy dump trucks among other products, with plans to expand the range this year.

Gray says these products offer customers greater reliability, increased fuel efficiency, advanced user-friendly technology and superior durability.
Mobile screening and crushing equipment are one of MIMICOs best-selling product lines, Gray says, as customers are looking to supplement existing production capacity.

“We can build and supply fixed plant, but at this moment in time we seem to be selling a lot of mobile crushing gear on tracks,” he says.

A fixed plant system requires a large investment and can take a long time to complete.

“Whereas, quite often the Lokotrack mobile crushing unit can be a quick solution. You can get one in a couple of months and be up and running.”
Gray says the company has recently been going through a period of change.

“We’re a family business that is growing fast, so we’ve had to change the way we do things and the way we structure ourselves, but we feel we’re in a good spot right now with our development as a business.”

This article was first published on Inside Resources, New Zealand's online news and information service for the mining and quarrying sectors including a comprehensive industry participant, and, mine, quarry and permit database. The subscription-based website provides executive interviews, news, opinions and commentary on a daily basis. It informs readers and assists high-level decision making around trends, projects and regulations influencing the minerals, aggregates, metals and coal industries. A daily e-newsletter is sent directly to your inbox.