Contractors will need to be more creative to get work – predicts industry stalwart

The demands of mining companies for greater cost efficiencies and more exacting levels of output is placing a huge emphasis on mining industry contractors to become more creative in machinery design.

The comment was made by Neil Irvine, Principal of Rapid Crushing & Screening Contractors who in marking Rapid’s recent 40th anniversary said he believed the next 40 years would be far tougher than the last.

“Up to about 20 years ago, contractors in our field of work could generally get by with ‘off-the-shelf’ bought plant and provided they were cost competitive they could get work.

“I’ll never forget the advice of a good client who said – ‘build the machinery and you’ll get work’ which is exactly how we launched our business,” he said.

“As things evolved we increased our competitiveness because we had the in-house skills to modify plant for making it better suited to the harsh, extremely dusty conditions of outback Australia which meant we had fewer breakdown problems.

“This was brought about by the fact that we actually started as a service company, repairing plant and equipment. One of the advantages was that we didn’t have to rely on overseas plant suppliers to service the gear and come up with the parts. We had them on hand which meant and continues to mean far less downtime.

“Additionally, we developed the idea of configuring our plant specifically to clients’ sites. This helped in giving better output and at times we were able to operate with fewer people which meant lower operating costs.

“However, from about 10 years ago – and we expect this to evolve further into the future we’ve been finding that not only do mining companies require a more exacting output in the material produced and in quantity produced to deadlines, but they’re vastly more conscious of relating these aspects to cost of production,” he said.

Mr Irvine said that mining companies are having to meet their client order specifications more precisely and the timelines for output had definitely reduced. This has led to Rapid Crushing building vastly bigger equipment than what was needed in its earlier days and they’re tailor designing it specifically to the needs of the client.

“By doing this we have been able to give much better levels of output, far more reliably and often with a lower level of manpower which when all this is taken into account means greater cost effectiveness for the client”.

Mr Irvine said he not only believes that mining companies are going to require greater capabilities from contractors, the mining companies themselves are going to become far more reliant on capable contractors rather than doing the work themselves.

“Crushing and screening work is becoming increasingly specialised with greater flexibility needed. It means that companies can get stuck with outmoded machinery when their client demands change,“ he said.

In looking back on the 40 years of Rapid Crushing’s evolvement, during which the company is believed to have grown to becoming the biggest privately owned operation of its type in Australia, Neil Irvine said it had been most satisfying to work with fantastic clients in the mining industry.

Rapid has worked on numerous projects, many operated by such majors as BHP, Rio Tinto, FMG, Woodside (Burrup) and Chevron (Gorgon) and directly for other mining companies and contractors as well as undertaking specialised quarrying and construction material operations for major civil contractors.

Amphibious excavator enters the salt lake potash mining ventures

Rapid Dam Contractors has broadened its scope of activities from being a specialist in building and expanding Tailings Storage Facilities to providing services for potash mining in Western Australia’s salt lakes.

The company has added a 13tonne amphibious excavator to its fleet.

The excavator is able to float on the surface of a lake or work in extremely boggy conditions where a normal machine could not cope.

The machine developed by Rapid Dams could be the forerunner of specialised equipment needed to facilitate the recent increase of interest in mining salt lakes for the sulphate of potash that can be sourced from the lakes.

After drying the brine from the lakes, the sulphate of potash left is used as a premium fertiliser for fruits, vegetable and other plants that require this particular fertiliser.

Rapid Dam’s Area Manager, said the prime purpose of developing the machine was to increase the capability of working on very soft terrain or in water up to 1.2metres deep.

The unit has the capability of being able to float.

It has been fitted with a long reach boom and stick to give a combined length of 12 metres.

The amphibious excavator has been set up with 2 drive motors per pontoon to give it maximum drive power. Each retractable pontoon has a dual sprocket arrangement driving chain and grouser bars on an even load sharing basis so it eliminates the fear of becoming immobilised through losing traction thereby making it possible to work where other machinery simple cannot go.

In addition to working on salt lakes the machine could be used for:

  • Cleaning out slime ponds
  • Dredging and general marina maintenance
  • Establishment of diversion channels and Water Storage Facilities in very wet boggy areas.

If this could help solve your problems, please feel welcome to contact us for further information: Tel (08) 9452 5888 or:

Crunch Time – Summer 2017/18

Welcome to another edition of Crunch Time

We thought you might like to read something bullish for a change – that just might set your heart pumping? According to a forecast in a recent edition of the publication, ‘The Daily Reckoning Australia’ quoting a claim by renowned investment bankers, Goldman Sachs there’s another mining boom on its way.

While the last one was primarily driven by demand from China, this time, the publication says it will be driven by a lack of supply. Goldman Sachs believes the next mining boom is going to be brought on by the fact that spending on exploration has touched a 30 year low that is predicted to become a problem when existing mining operations rundown. According to the publication, 60% of the world’s top 100 mines were built last century and their reserves have been running down for a long time now.

The thinking behind the prediction is that the lag times on getting mines up and running is enormous so that whatever supply is available will be: I quote: ‘bid up and drench mining companies in money’.

No doubt you’re wondering when this is going to happen. The exact timing wasn’t mentioned – though the writer did say he expected commodity prices to move within two years. If this comes true… don’t forget that you read it first in Crunch Time.

What’s inside…


Here’s something you should know about crushing and screening productivity

More $ spent on site set up = Lower project costs & Higher productivity

If ever there was a reality that applies to mine site crushing and screening services – what seems to be the lowest cost method of doing things, invariably doesn’t work out that way.

The way to maximise site productivity in relation to output and costs of production is to take the long term view.

When it comes to crushing, screening and conveying, the site set up and equipment commissioning can make all the difference between a so-so operation and one that will give maximum efficiency.

Achieving maximum efficiency often means higher initial set-up costs, but when it comes to production, reliability and cost savings – in the long run, this method finishes up being a mile in front.

This is the Rapid Crushing and Screening Contracting Services way of doing things.

With 15 plants around Australia and 38 years of experience in providing contract crushing and screening services, we have learnt a thing or two about:

  • designing and building plant
  • delivering tonnage to meet client requirements
  • delivering at the lowest possible tonnage cost
  • delivering to the highest possible production targets and standards.

The process of being able to create plant with first rate delivery capabilities came through our engineering division, Irvine Engineering (WA) Pty Ltd that our Principal, Neil Irvine had established prior to beginning a one plant crushing and screening operation.

He began as most crushing and screening contracting services do – by purchasing off-the-shelf equipment and competing with others to win contracts.

When it was realised that better productivity could frequently be achieved by reconfiguring the equipment, (often to meet the configuration of a site) our unique engineering works came into its own.

Nowadays, when we win a contract we look seriously at client requirements and the layout of the site to select the machinery best suited and whether it needs changes to its configuration.

It means we never have to make something fit that’s not quite right for a project. It enables us to take on the more difficult projects, satisfying the most stringent specifications that often cannot be met by other crushing plant operators because they’re limited to the capabilities of their machinery and reliance on third party contractors for repair and maintenance work.

Without our engineering works this would have been more costly and difficult to achieve.

Proof of the right gear making a difference!

In 2014 we proved to a major mining company how much more efficient we can be than our competitors.

The client had a pressing need to produce a major amount of tonnage in a short period of time and had several contractors working the site.

When they realised the required production deadline was unlikely to be met, they called us in.

Our machinery, completely out – produced what was on site with the final result being that the target was achieved.

A great example of creating a unique design was at the Moly Metals Spinifex Ridge DSO Mine in the Pilbara.

Rapid commissioned a large 3 stage fixed crushing and screening circuit to process 1 million tonne pa of ore with a capacity to ramp up production if required.

This plant was uniquely designed and constructed to fit the contours of an elevated escarpment with about 12m difference between the ROM feed point to the toe of the product stockpile to achieve a stockpiling facility of around 80,000 tonnes.

The difference in output capacity between what we were able to produce and what a standard conventional system would have achieved was considerable. End result – cost savings for the client.

FMG’s Cloud Break Site

The plant we have installed at FMG’s Cloud Break mine has a unique cone screen combination that gives us a greater level of throughput.

In addition to a better level of efficiency, an aspect that particularly appeals to us is that this unique design took less time to assemble on site.

This particular contract follows on from previous work that Rapid undertook for FMG at

Christmas Creek where Rapid produced nearly 4 million tonnes of iron ore for shipment in a particularly tight time frame.

Essentially, Rapid Crushing is one of the rare companies with the know-how to build and modify plant ourselves – making it superior to the plant you can buy ‘off the shelf’.

While that doesn’t sound significant to someone simply examining quotes, it does become significant with respect to the final outcome of a project.

In fact we can prove that a more expensive quote is often a cheaper quote in the long run.

So, if you’re thinking of calling for a site contractor, why not ask us how we would tackle your project?


Plant to suit your project

Rapid Crushing has created a wide range of high production crushing, screening and conveying circuits ranging from mobile & modular plants crushing up to 600 tph and fixed plants able to crush 1,000 tph.

Rapid is currently operating the following fleet:

►►Seven Track Jaw / Cone & Screen Circuits

►►Six Modular Jaw / Cone & Screen Circuits

►►Two Fixed Jaw / Cone & Screen Circuits

Each has been configured to suit the specific site in which it is operating.

Rapid crushes and screens all types of mineral ores including iron ore, gold and nickel as well as construction materials such as concrete and road aggregates, specialty fill materials, rail ballast, road base, blast stemming, rip rap and armour rock so the need for a varied range of equipment is considerable.

Why not give us a try…. Be assured, we won’t disappoint you.

On site lab helps us get it right and keep it right

Failing to monitor on a daily basis, the end product of a crushing cycle can run the risk of producing crushed material that is out of specification.

Furthermore, if incorrectly sized material is mixed in with product that meets the required specifications, you may not even become aware of the problem until much later when it could cost a packet to rectify the problem.

We at Rapid Crushing and Screening Contractors don’t take chances when it comes to ensuring crushed rock falls within a client’s specified product curve.

We are always on the lookout for the possible effects of machine wear and changing rock feed on end product consistency.

Unlike some other operators, we do not have to send our samples away for analysis – a process that can take days.

Instead, where required, we have a fully equipped mobile laboratory on-suite to analyse crushed rock samples right away to give daily reports. This allows us to make immediate adjustments to crushers or screens.

Our specialist lab technicians can produce sample results that give clients the comfort of knowing that the end product is in spec.

‘Doing it right’ is our motto.

It has come from our in-depth knowledge, acquired through 38 years of operation, of how critical it is to produce crushed rock that meets the specifications for blast-hole stemming, road base, road sealing, rail ballast or concrete aggregates.

Of course, ensuring we get it right starts well before we set up a plant on site.

A great deal of expertise is often required to meet the often strict specifications set by mining and construction industries – particularly so when producing aggregate.

In order to satisfy specs relating to size and grades there are many variables to consider when setting up and running a crushing plant. These include the choice of crushing equipment to be used and the nature of the material to be crushed.

Decisions have to be made about crusher settings, fine tuning of crushers, the location of screens and the choice of the right screen-cloths for the job.

It is also necessary to analyse the material to be crushed to determine factors such as hardness and abrasiveness. Failure to properly examine the rock can result in heavy dust loads or possibly in having to send the material through the crushing circuit a second time at a major cost in terms of time and money.

World’s best practice explosives magazines…built specifically for their purpose!

As standards for storing dangerous goods become more stringent, it is becoming increasingly important that explosives are stored in containers that meet the Australian Standard/ AS2187.1-1998.

A surprising number of companies resort to the ‘el cheapo’ method of storing explosives in upgraded shipping containers which only just meet the compliance conditions.

As compliance responsibilities with Explosives Storage Regulations become more stringent, many companies are going to have to face the reality that their barely compliant box is not going to ‘cut the mustard’.

This is an area of responsibility that has concerned Irvine Engineering, a division of Rapid Crushing for a considerable number of years and it is our strong belief that the only responsible approach is for companies that have explosives to have them stored in a properly constructed explosives magazine.

In accordance with this attitude, Irvine Engineering builds explosives magazines that have meticulous compliance to every detail of Explosives Storage Regulations throughout the country.

We strongly believe they should be more than just solid, hence the following specifications are included in the magazines that we produce:

  • Massive 6mm steel plate walls and 10mm thick doors
  • Properly designed ventilation that gives more than adequate compliance to air flow requirements
  • Highly secure door locking systems – 6 tongues / door
  • All double door magazines have full width doors both ends which, unlike sea container magazines, make stock rotation easy – load one end, unload from the other end.
  • Insulation and timber lining exceeding current Standards: Walls are insulated and lined with timber, giving each wall a thickness of 100mm. This creates an internal measurement of 20.24 m2 for a 10 tonne magazine. Under a directive from the Mines Department (Explosives Branch), we must have 2m2 per tonne stored i.e. 20.24 m2 = 10.12 tonne magazine.
  • Fully welded external joints
  • In-built rated lifting points allowing the sunroof to be left fitted for transport
  • Main door beams have exposed cyclone tie down points and access for bolting down to the slab footings unlike sea containers which only have corner eye points.

Other features of the Irvine Explosives magazines…

  • Vastly reduced manual handing and repetitive lifting requirements due to full width double doors that allow the loading of full pallets direct from a forklift onto either of the 2 rows of purpose built rated trolleys – unlike the manual unloading/loading needed in converted sea containers which only have a single row of trolleys or no trolleys at all.
  • Capacity for detonators/boosters is 4,000 detonators/boosters per 1 tonne of capacity.
  • Hinges on day boxes are concealed and the padlock has a shroud to prevent access to the lock by gas or bolt cutting.

If you have a need for an Explosives magazine why not call us. We absolutely guarantee the level of workmanship is second to none and that standards are well ahead of compliance requirements.

Designing the ideal crushing plant with the help of software

When it comes to designing crushing plants we use Bruno Simulation a plant flow analysis software program developed specifically for the aggregate and mining industry.

We use it to build a virtual crushing plant on the computer screen – choose equipment types and settings, monitor flow rates and gradations at desired points, then run the plant.

By experimenting with different types of equipment and settings we can fully optimise crushing, screening and washing equipment to maximise the production of desired products.

Aggregate producers, equipment manufacturers around the world use this software to reduce calculation time and increase the productivity of their aggregate and mining operations.

The system also helps us in modifying equipment to meet the specific needs of our clients. We have undertaken specific modifications to equipment – for example, a track jaw crusher to make it more suitable for harder crushing applications.

This all sounds simple enough – but it is one of the differences between Rapid and other operators. Rapid is able to make these modifications to suit client needs in our own workshop. Others would have to contact the manufacturers to ascertain if it was possible for their equipment to be modified.

It’s this sort of thing that makes the difference.

Rapid Dams shows its capabilities in the WA goldfields

Big Projects for Rapid Dams

Rapid Dams shows its capabilities in the WA goldfields

Rapid Dams, launched in 2015 as a specialist in building tailings storage facilities, has been kicking goals with several major projects completed in the W.A. goldfields and mid-west regions

Recently finished projects in the goldfields region include two Raised Wet lift TSFs and a major Dry-lift TSF project.

The company has rapidly become a significant player in the building of tailings storage facilities, dam extensions and the building of Clay and HDPE and PVC lined ponds for the mining industry.

The team is also able to undertake road construction, drainage and rehabilitation earthworks.

Rapid Dams is led by a highly competent, well experienced duo in Martin Fowler, and Mark Bowman.

Martin Fowler and Mark Bowman take responsibility for project supervision and the handling of contracts.

One of the strengths of the team is that there is simply no more experience likely to be available in this type of work than what they offer.

They have worked extensively through the goldfields and other mining areas across Australia for many years before joining Rapid. What’s more, they’re equipped with the best plant available for the type of work they’re undertaking.

One of the really strong features of the team is that the work is supervised on-site by the company leaders, Martin and Mark. The buck stops with them in the quality of workmanship delivered.

They’re highly experienced, among the very best in their field, so clients can have absolute confidence in Rapid Dams delivering quality workmanship that is second to none.

If you have a project that could use the attention of Rapid Dams – no matter how large or small, please feel welcome to make contact. Martin Fowler Tel (08) 9452 5888 or:


Absolute confidence needed

One key thing that spells a difference: A mine operator can have absolute confidence in the job being done to spec and to schedule!

If there’s one thing a mine operator needs from a crushing and screening contractor, it is absolute confidence in the contractor’s ability to deliver the required out-put to a given schedule.

That’s one of the key differentiating factors in the Rapid Crushing story.
We have the ability to get things done according to schedule because of a key factor that very few other screening contractors have.
We have a major engineering workshop within the Rapid Crushing Group that is the foundation of our business. It is the facility that enables us to build crushing and screening plant designed specifically to suit the configuration of a mine site and to the requirements of our clients.

This is a significant difference from the large and small crushing and screening operations that import off-the-shelf equipment from overseas based manufacturers.

Building our own purpose-made equipment gives us the tools to fine tune our designs to the conditions specific to a site and to create better and better crushing solutions.

Furthermore, in the event of a breakdown (everyone has them) we have the know-how and the equipment to expedite repairs immediately. That’s a big difference from having to bring in another party to undertake the repair and possibly having to wait for a part to arrive from interstate or overseas.

That reliability of absolutely minimal lost time is one of the big differentiators between Rapid Crushing and Screening Contractors and other services.