Q&A with Ian Cornfoot, MD of G&G Mining

10 August 2020 (Last Updated August 10th, 2020 14:07)

We talk to G&G managing director Ian Cornfoot about the company and its presence in the mining industry.

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We talk to G&G Mining managing director Ian Cornfoot about the company and its presence in the mining industry.

Can you tell us a little about G&G Mining?

The business was established in 1990 as G&G Welding. Over the last 30 years, the business has grown from a local repair, welding and fabrication business to the G&G Mining business we have today. We are a major supplier of our own designed, engineered and manufactured attachments for heavy mobile mining equipment – buckets, dump bodies, water tanks, along with associated parts and services. This includes the supply of wear-resistant parts and materials, on and off-site repair, maintenance and refurbishment services, spare parts for water tanks, and other speciality engineered products and engineering projects.

I joined the business in 2016 following the acquisition by Nordic and US-based steel manufacturer SSAB, the manufacturer of Hardox® wear-resistant steels, who recognise the opportunity to develop new, advanced earthmoving attachment designs and new advanced material grades together.

To date, our business has been predominantly in Western Australia – servicing the various mining sectors here – iron ore, gold, alumina, lithium, manganese etc. However, we  do supply equipment and services interstate and overseas and see these as significant opportunities for growth.

How is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting G&G Mining and your business pursuits?

We have been extremely fortunate in that the effects to date have been minimal. We have had no staff members suffer from the disease and have been able to remain operational throughout the crisis. It has obviously presented us some challenges – with social distancing in the workshop resulting in the need to run a nightshift, and we can’t exactly have welders and fitters work from home, so we instead needed to put in place all the required precautions so we could continue to operate. We did have some staff members overseas on holiday when the crisis started, and so we supported them through the quarantine periods as they struggled to return to work.

In regard to the market, it has remained relatively busy and orders intake has continued. Long-term, there is obviously uncertainty and questions around long term commodity demand, but whilst iron ore, gold and other prices remain strong we continue to see investment by the miners and contractors.

What is the XMOR brand and when did you introduce it to the market?

XMOR is intended to be the new global benchmark in design for earthmoving equipment attachments that offer end-users productivity gains through a reduction in weight, increase in payload, and elimination of maintenance tasks.

Introduced last year, G&G offers our productivity-enhancing lightweight dump bodies and buckets under the XMOR brand, which also includes other bucket and tipper designs developed and sold in different global markets by SSAB.

How do your products perform in the Australian market?

We do operate in a very competitive sector, particularly in Western Australia, which may be seen as the global epicentre of lightweight dump body design, and has many companies offering bucket designs and repair services. This is in part because the Australian mining market is probably the most developed and advanced global mining market, with very demanding, technically competent customers who are consistently looking to improve their results through improved equipment productivity and ultimately reduced cost per tonne

All our products are designed locally, developed, tested and proven in the harsh Australian conditions where we can see examples of extreme impact and abrasion, and high equipment utilisation rates that mean equipment can wear out faster.

What is the aim of the XMOR range in terms of high productivity equipment design?

We are confident we have products that can redefine body and bucket design. For example, with the XMOR body, there have been ‘lightweight’ dump bodies around for many years now. However, there are often operational issues with the wear life, resistance to impact, structural life, carryback etc that are present in these, and many heavy-duty body designs.

What we have done is been able to offer a product that is even lighter than what was available, whilst also offering solutions to many of the other operational and maintenance considerations – offering longer wear life, reduced carryback, increased resistance to impact – both from rocks and from the loading tools and reduced maintenance requirements. Ultimately this should result in the lowest cost of ownership and the lowest cost per tonne for the end-user.

Does G&G Mining provide the technical expertise of design, manufacture and delivery of lightweight bodies to the global market?

As a subsidiary of a global company in SSAB, this does open global opportunities. We know we have a product with global applications, and there is demand around the world.

We are currently developing our global strategy, and how we will service the many mining markets around the world, but certainly we will have to be able to offer local customisation and some level of local manufacture around the world. The products we make are large and don’t lend themselves to transport, although by the same token the size and complexity mean that their manufacture requires specific skills and facilities.

Does G&G Mining enjoy a strong reputation with their clients?

We aim to build long-term relationships with our customers and look to solve their problems, which can be seen with many of our customers have been with us for many many years. With our service and engineering teams working closely, we are able to react and offer solutions quickly to problems that may exist within their existing fleet, rather than try and sell new equipment. As we grow and develop with our customers, we build trust and are then better positioned to offer them products that really meet their needs and solve their operational challenges – as these differ vastly between sites and companies.

An example of this is a recent rollover protection / falling object protection system we developed for a new client. This is not core business for us, but our customer identified a deficiency with what was available in the market, and, through our detailed knowledge of high strength steel, engineering design and manufacturing, we were able to identify, develop and introduce an engineered solution that offers them a significant safety improvement. This builds trust and our reputation with our customers while offering our staff opportunities to stretch themselves, and which, in turn, will hopefully result in the relationship expanding to other products and services.