Niche market mined

MINING is a 24-hour business and the daily cost of unforeseeable machinery breakdowns that halt operations can run into the millions.

This is made worse when a part necessary to repair the machinery is difficult to source and transport to remote mine sites.

However, one Perth company has created a niche from doing the legwork involved in sorting out mining dilemmas such as this.

Supply Direct began its life as the logistics department of Ausdrill, the Kalgoorlie-based mining, drilling and blasting specialist, and now supplies procurement and logistics services to major players in the mining industry including Newmont Mining, Rio Tinto and Golden Star Resources.

Becoming a subsidiary of Ausdrill in 1994 with four employees, the company now employs 54 staff globally with 20 in its Perth office.

Supply Direct logistics manager Michelle Hunt said it was a natural progression for the company to become its own entity after discovering strong demand for integrated supply chain management services in the mining industry.

“Urgency happens quite a lot. You could have a machine down at great cost to the client,” she said.

“We had a situation where a mill closed down costing the client between $US80,000 to $US100,000 per day.

“We sourced the parts in Singapore and flew a person with the part to the mine site in Ghana.”

Ms Hunt said the exercise had been expensive due to the haste involved, however, it was far cheaper than the cost of the mill being out of operation.

She said the specialist nature of Supply Direct’s business meant it was the first business of its kind to set up shop in WA.

Ms Hunt said the company’s point of difference lay in that it was a “single source solution” for its mining clients.

She said rather than a client having to contact various suppliers, Supply Direct could procure a range of goods including oversized or specialised equipment; spare parts and tools; laboratory and medical supplies; vehicles; accommodation and catering supplies; and general office equipment.

The company can then ensure timely, cost-effective delivery including freight forwarding, customs clearance, cargo inspection, documentation, insurance and monitoring of delivery.

“In some cases, we’ve flown in specialist personnel to fix certain problems,” Ms Hunt said.

“We’ve chartered a whole vessel a couple of times now.”

While mining makes up around 85 per cent of Supply Direct’s business, the company has also taken on other projects such as sourcing and sending aid supplies to Timor including beds and hospital equipment and doing work for charity such as sending containers full of supplies overseas free of charge.

Ms Hunt said the client list was growing with others coming from industries that have immediate or emergency requirements such as the defence industry.

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