Iron ore, OEMS

Remote facility, state-of-the-art services

Metso’s Karratha service centre in WA brings with it a suite of benefits for the Pilbara mining industry.

Western Australia has long been dubbed the country’s unofficial home of mining.

As one of the world’s largest exporters of raw materials, the region needs dedicated service centres to make mining quicker, easier and more efficient.

That’s where Metso’s new Karratha service centre comes in.

Built on a 35,000m2 block and boasting a 5000m2 workshop, the Karratha Service Centre is the Pilbara’s newest one-stop-shop, complete with state-of-the-art services for everything related to the mining and resources industry.

Metso president for Asia Pacific Stuart Sneyd told Australian Mining about the decision behind opening the new centre.

“This idea has been around for quite a number of years,” he said. “What drove it was simply our desire to find ways to increase our support to our customers in the Pilbara region.”

Stuart Sneyd, Metso president for Asia Pacific.
Image: Metso

The Pilbara region has one of the highest concentrations of Metso equipment in the world, so it was a no-brainer for the Metso team to provide more local hands-on support.

“Some of our largest customers are in the Pilbara, and they’re in a very remote part of Australia,” Sneyd said. “At Metso, we’re very much about customer success – it’s one of our core values.”

The state-of-the-art facility will provide Metso customers with significant value in terms of  equipment availability and performance improvements supported by Metso’s on-site experts.

The centre can service a wide range of heavy mining equipment, including crushers, screens, mills, HIGmills, HPGRs and car dumpers, among others.

Matt Morton, who heads up Metso’s Asia Pacific repairs facilities, discussed some of the Metso machinery that will service customer equipment .

“A lot of work went in to deciding the best fit for this facility,” Morton told Australian Mining. “And with Karratha, we’ve jumped straight to the top of the class.

“Our internal lifting capability is a particular standout. We have one overhead crane that can lift 120 tonnes, which is supported by 32-tonne and 20-tonne ancillary cranes.

“So our lifting capacity is enormous.”

Elsewhere in the centre, a straddle crane with 140-tonne lifting capacity can pick equipment up off the back of trucks and transport it straight into the yard.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into some of the biggest bottlenecks on a mine site, and simply moving equipment from point A to B is one of them,” Morton said.

“The way we’ve designed the facility means our straddle crane can drive inside the workshop to pick up equipment before putting it onto another truck or into the yard.”

According to Morton, one of the biggest drivers for the team was to design a centre that was as self-sufficient as possible.

“Being out in Karratha, it’s important that we can help our customers without needing to help ourselves,” Morton said.

“So we’ve installed a full suite of high-end machinery to ensure limited reliance on others.”

Crushers will now be serviced locally in Karratha.
Image: Metso

The Karratha service centre also boasts a tailor-made training facility covering everything from theory to practice.

“There are thousands of people operating plant in the greater Pilbara region and we can provide them with training for the safe operation and maintenance of their equipment,” Sneyd said.

“It’s something that we have offered in other locations globally but we really want to build this up in a local context, especially given the size of our operations in the Pilbara.”

In addition to these more obvious benefits, the Karratha service centre is also making waves in the sustainability sector, with its location particularly friendly.

“We used to ship equipment from the east coast all the way to Perth,” Sneyd said. “Now we’ve cut down on thousands of kilometres of travel, meaning less fuel is used to get the equipment to the mines.

“Emergency breakdowns on-site can also be fixed faster, so production doesn’t have to stop for weeks while machinery is shipped long distances for repair.”

It’s no secret that machinery working in optimal conditions maximises productivity, safety and reliability, and now the maintenance required to keep these machines operating at such a level is on the Pilbara’s doorstep.

“As a Metso facility, we can service and maintain the equipment to our OEM (original equipment manufacturer) standards,” Sneyd said.

“That’s really important, because we can provide that quality assurance and the warranty for anything that’s been repaired or serviced at the facility.”

After planning the centre for over two years, the Metso team has been eagerly anticipating the public’s reaction since beginning the journey.

As a former Karratha local, Morton has been on-hand for a lot of the positive feedback.

“Locals are seeing this as a very positive thing for their town,” he said.

“This centre is providing more opportunities for them, and it’s almost like it’s filling in a piece of the puzzle out there.”

For Sneyd, the opening of the Karratha service centre was a huge milestone. But there’s no stopping the team now that the facility is up and running.

“The short-term focus is to safely ramp up the facility and ensure it continues to run well,” he said.

“But I think what’s important to us is to continue to liaise with the community and find out where else we can help.

“We want to be seen as a good corporate partner for the area, and we know there’s a lot of work to do in the next few years as we build up our Karratha facility, but we aren’t afraid of the challenge.”

This feature appeared in the April 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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