06/02/2008 - 22:00

New models for mine camps

06/02/2008 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

As mine site accommodation moves away from traditional donga camps towards resort-style developments, portable housing providers are becoming more innovative with their use of design and are trialling new models of ownership.

New models for mine camps

As mine site accommodation moves away from traditional donga camps towards resort-style developments, portable housing providers are becoming more innovative with their use of design and are trialling new models of ownership.

O’Connor-based Ausco Building Systems Pty Ltd is currently building its first company owned and operated camp in Western Australia, which will be a pilot centre to trial energy efficient design.

The 280-room boutique camp will be similar to the company’s two model camps in the eastern states, using alternative power sources such as heat pumps and solar cells, and experimenting with recycled grey water and sound proofing.

Ausco’s business development manager, James Rowdon, said while it was not the company’s intention to move into full-scale management of mining camps, clients were becoming interested in smaller, community-style settlements and the camp would provide a model for this.

Other players in the sector, such as Henderson-based Nomad Building Solutions Ltd, are moving into camp management.

Nomad is in the process of establishing a new business unit, which would own and operate residential camps in towns such as Newman, Tom Price and Port Hedland.

Under the proposed model, Nomad would become a supplier to its subsidiary, Rapley Wilkinson, which would develop the camp infrastructure and manage the subcontracting of services, including catering.

Nomad managing director Phil Guy, who is currently recruiting a chief executive officer to head up the new business, said he hoped it would be launched on July 1.

“We believe that since the acquisition of Rapley Wilkinson, and with their experience in resort development, the model we put to the industry can be greater than what is currently being offered,” he said.

Mr Guy said Nomad already had orders worth $230 million for the 2009 financial year, and had reached its budget for this year.

It has a budget of $400 million for 2009. 

Nomad’s approach is similar to NSW-based The Mac Services Group Ltd, which owns and operates its projects.

Mac Services, which recently moved into the WA market, is currently building the first stage of a $12 million, 240-room village in Karratha and is seeking council approval to expand the village to about 600 rooms.

It has also secured a state government tender for a 1,400-room facility on a 20-hectare site at Gap Ridge in Karratha.

However, the owner-operator model is not being adopted across the board.

Fleetwood Corporation Ltd managing director Bob McKinnon said he believed there was longer-term risk involved in moving into camp ownership.

“I think mining is a sector that can be volatile. At the moment, the level of activity is good for us all, but you have to be careful if you want to invest heavily in a large village and demand subsides,” he said.

Manufactured accommodation makes up about half of Fleetwood’s total business, with mining the largest contributor.

Ausco’s James Rowdon said he believed there would be a softening in the mining accommodation sector from next financial year, due to delays in the approvals process.

During the past three years, Ausco’s turnover has increased by about 50 per cent year on year, to a projected $150 million for 2008, driven largely by its mining business.

However, Mr Rowdon said capacity constraints, such as a shortage of labour, were likely to kick in before any downturn. 

“I think there will be a softening, but other opportunities are being created in sectors like education, because of the number of people coming to WA,” he said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options