Australian Mining Prospect Awards: Contractor of the Year

PYBAR Mining Services (PYBAR) is a na­tionwide provider of mining ser­vices with core competencies in metalliferous underground hard rock mining.

At Aurelia Metal's Hera gold-copper mine in New South Wales, PYBAR is contracted for all primary construction works and commenced the project in January 2013.

Using a standard mining fleet, the company has achieved amazing results in an application requiring in-cycle fibrecrete and dual rock-bolt ground support.

PYBAR said decline development is some months ahead of schedule and on-budget.

Over a six month period to December 2013, decline advance rates at the project averaged 6.3 metres per day (almost one vertical metre per day) with a single jumbo, leading Aurelia to report on PYBAR's "over-performance" in the rate of development.

Since January 2014, PYBAR has continued with one jumbo and achieved an average of 290 metres per month, including three months of performance greater than 320 metres in an environment of a restricted number of available headings.

PYBAR said a culture of efficiency and productivity improvement has allowed it to achieve these results in single heading tunnel development.

Past approaches to speeding up mine tunnel construction rates in Australia have relied on combinations of expensive specialised high powered automated face drilling jumbos typically used in civil construction projects in Europe drilling long rounds (~6.5m) and other specialised technology. 

There have been some notable successes with uplifts in single heading advance rates of 40-70 per cent being recorded over standard methods with the same mining crews.

However, PYBAR said none of these attempts have resulted in lasting implementation of the technology and most of this specialised equipment has been decommissioned.

"Using a standard fleet to achieve the rapid development rates that we have enables in-house equipment maintenance, capital cost reduction, flexibility and post-project disposal value," the company said.

PYBAR said it achieved these rates by reinstating some of the traditional humanistic management approaches but applying them to modern mining applications.

These approaches included motivating small teams of multi-skilled operators, visible leadership at the shop floor and minimising inactive time at the face.

The company also implemented flexible equipment maintenance programs and effective information systems – providing only important information to the right people at the right time. PYBAR said the approach relied on mutual respect between work crews, crew members, site management and the client in developing and aligning common project goals, allowing issues and opportunities to become visible across the entire project allowing for better understanding and continuous improvement.

Clear and concise communication between all created an environment conducive to PYBAR's motto of "do it right – do it once".

"We proved that there is room to reset benchmarks of performance and deliver step changes in value for the mining industry at large by investing nothing more than a culture of efficiency and productivity improvement – 'doing more with less'," PYBAR said.

"In these mines short rounds are beneficial in following variable ore bodies and minimising setups at the working face."

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