J Smith and Sons on national stage
A GYMPIE engineering company up against some of the big boys of the mining industry has clinched a major win at the 7th Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards.
At the gala awards ceremony and dinner on Thursday evening at Doltone House, Sydney, J Smith and Sons were announced the winners of the Innovative Mining Solutions category with their Smith Mk4 Hydrapede.
There were large numbers of entries with a record number of nominations in the Innovative Mining Solutions and Excellence in Environmental Management sections.
Smith and Sons principal Kerren Smith said the competition was stiff, and included some big names like Xstrata and Macmahon.
“We were up against some multi-nationals with deep pockets and a lot of resources,” he said. “The win was a surprise. We didn’t think we were in with a chance.”
Judges were impressed with the Gympie designed and built Hydrapede, a powered dolly which enables mining road trains to haul large amounts of minerals over long distances.
Essentially, the system serves as a second prime mover in a road train and can be operated in combinations of up to four trailers and at speeds of up to 73km/hour, said Smith and Sons engineering manager Kevin McDonnell.
The system is also automated so the driver enables the Hydrapede when starting their shift and is not required to disable it until the end of the shift or for routine maintenance.
The win more than justifies the couple of million dollars invested in research and development by the company and it’s a well deserved gong for the engineering team who invented what is a much more efficient method of shifting big loads directly from the mine to the processing plant.
Needing only one-third the road width of a mining dump truck, the Mark 4 is capable of shifting around 315 tonne of ore, and that means lower operating costs.
“You need less trucks, which in turn means less wages and less road maintenance,” said Mr McDonnell.
Mr Smith said the win is “good for the business” and when he says “good”, he means they expect their award winning innovation to return some $50 to $60 million per year.
There’s already nine Hydrapedes working across Australia, and the company is currently working on the Mark 5 – which will boast a 400 tonne capacity.
Eventually, they’ll market Hydrapede models ranging in hauling capacity from 250 to 400 tonne.