17/10/2014 - 15:01

PYBAR takes on big contractors

17/10/2014 - 15:01

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PYBAR Mining Services is positioning itself to take on the two dominant contractors in underground mining, after making two acquisitions in Western Australia and being named as preferred contractor for a new mine.

STEPPING UP: David Noort says PYBAR is bidding on some projects that could be ‘game changers’. Photo: Attila Csaszar

PYBAR Mining Services is positioning itself to take on the two dominant contractors in underground mining, after making two acquisitions in Western Australia and being named as preferred contractor for a new mine.

The privately owned contractor is seeking to build on its east coast operations, which generate more than $200 million in annual turnover.

It was selected early this month as preferred underground mining contractor for Ramelius Resources’ Vivien gold project, which is likely to get under way next year.

It has also won a two-year extension to its contract at Saracen Mineral Holdings’ Red October gold mine.

Operations manager WA & SA David Noort, who was recruited last year from Barminco to drive PYBAR's west coast expansion, said the firm was aggressively pursuing new work.

This includes tendering on Sirius Resources’ planned Nova nickel mine.

“There are some projects we are bidding on now that we expect will be game changers for us,” Mr Noort said.

“We want a level of pre-eminence in the market that firmly establishes us as one of the big three in Australia.”

Perth-based companies Byrnecut and Barminco are the two major contractors in underground mining in Australia, as detailed in the annual BNiQ ranking of mining contractors.

They each had global revenue last year in excess of $800 million, indicating PYBAR has a big job closing the gap.

To support its growth strategy, PYBAR bought Kalgoorlie drilling contractor HMR Drilling in December last year.

It also has a 60 per cent stake in Perth-based JT Mining Electrical Contracting.

Mr Noort said both acquisitions broadened the group's service offering and geographic diversity.

The HMR purchase also enabled the firm to replace sub-contractors that had been providing core-drilling services on its east coast projects.

PYBAR and HMR will move into an expanded base in Kalgoorlie this month, taking over Atlas Copco’s old facilities.

Mr Noort said his firm’s motto was ‘doing more with less’, which included having relatively small, multi-skilled teams and having less equipment on site.

He said its track record on mine development also helped it win the Ramelius contract.

At Red October, Mr Noort highlighted a move to a more traditional contracting approach with a clear allocation of risks and accountabilities.

This enabled the company to deliver a 15 per cent productivity improvement at the mine.

“We were able to bring down our rates quite a lot,” Mr Noort said.

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