Underground mining contracting has always been the lifeblood of international mining contractor Murray & Roberts.

“The nature of mining contracting work necessitates a support infrastructure for plant and associated ancillary equipment,” says Murray & Roberts engineering services executive Neil Lane. He states that the company’s Bentley Park facility has provided the solution and a competitive edge for Murray & Roberts Cementation to maintain its role as a player in the competitive contracting environment.

The company operates a plant store yard, in-house workshop and training facility for its operations at Bentley Park near Carltonville. The infrastructure support provided by this facility includes a fabrication shop, a raise and exploration drilling machine repair workshop, general workshops for mining equipment rebuilds and repairs, and plant and equipment storage facilities. The facility also offers an extensive mining training facility.

The Carltonville region was the centre of mining activities in the early 1970’s; and subsequently Bentley Park was chosen as the location for Murray & Roberts’ plant and equipment storage yard and repair facility. Over the years this was upgraded to become a major support structure for the company. Murray & Roberts intends to continue investing in the facility to fulfill their growing needs.

“It is necessary to keep on investing in our facilities to ensure our competitive edge in our niche markets. In many instances our operations are very specialised and we need to ensure our in-house competency in these markets,” Lane explains.

Employing around 200 staff, Bentley Park covers approximately 75 000m², with about 4 000m² situated under roof and cranage. The largest overhead crane has a 30t capacity. Shotblasting and painting is also done on site.

Developments at the Bentley Park facility have consolidated the company’s self dependence by providing a support infrastructure for its plant and equipment needs, enabling the company to contain costs, increase its knowledge base and have better control of operations in terms of performance, quality and lead times.

Lane identifies that the company has developed numerous industry specific manufacturing and repair skills: “This is possible as a result of the level of expertise and experience within the company, coupled with the company’s constant quest for innovation.”

He also maintains that as an accredited ISO 9001: 2000, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 supplier, it is important to adhere to a doctrine which pertains to constant improvement. The company is also driven by safety, market requirements and is focused on customer service.

Murray & Roberts Cementation is regarded as being one of the largest raisedrilling contractors in the world with 27 raisedrilling machines in southern Africa alone. These machines can drill holes of up to 7,1 metres in diameter and reach depths of more than 1100 metres.

The company also supplies support for raisedrilling operations in Canada, Australia and other areas of the world, from the Bentley Park operation. The company runs a similar workshop for its exploration drilling division.

The machines in the exploration drilling line are capable of drilling slim line exploration holes to depths of over five kilometres. The facility at Bentley Park is capable of rebuilding these machines as well as conducting re-engineering, servicing and repair work in both raisedrilling and exploration drilling. Field maintenance activities are also covered from this facility.

The company is currently involved in the pre-rehabilitation of a shaft, in preparation for major works on one of the copper mine expansion projects in Zambia. This means that the company can supply equipment and expertise into the most remote areas of the African continent. To facilitate this, the company used its engineering services, logistical services and expertise based at Bentley Park. A multi-skilled team from the company undertook the operation.

“As a result of the jobbing environment in which its workshops operate, Murray & Roberts Cementation has a multitude of in-house skills available. These skills are often those required for short-term projects and having these type of skills base available within the Bentley Park facility allows catering for on site requirements of client projects with ease,” states Lane.

During the 2007/2008 period the company will have 55 apprentices from a variety of trades undertaking training.

The Bentley Park facility also operates a condition monitoring programme for drill rods, reamer and cutter heads. Condition monitoring allows the a superior degree of risk management by accurately determining the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of equipment. By managing the risk in this manner, the company is able to virtually eliminate unscheduled downtime and achieve higher machine availabilities, all of which results in a better bottom line in production.

Murray & Roberts also manages the logistics of a 350 strong fleet of on road vehicles through the Bentley Park facility.