Mineforce Australia was founded in 1997 by Martin Hansen, who brought to this new business considerable rigging and steel construction experience in both the mining and civil sectors, along with experience in mine maintenance and plant and equipment demolition. One of the first challenges for the new business was demolishing redundant furnaces and associated equipment from the MIM Copper Refinery in Townsville, a challenge that required removing over 2000 tonnes of equipment. Mineforce quickly established its reputation with MIM as an efficient and reliable operator and went on to undertake a range of MIM projects at the copper refineries, the Port of Townsville and Ravenswood Gold.
In 1998, Mineforce Australia was approached by Prok Major Projects to undertake the mechanical installations for the WMC Phosphate Hill fertiliser project at Townsville Port. This included installing a wide range of material handling infrastructure such as feeders, conveyors and trippers for both the rail unloading system and the ship loading system. Mineforce successfully completed the project on schedule, building the company’s reputation and providing a solid platform to engage on a range of larger projects.
Xstrata’s acquisition of MIM Holdings in 2003 led to a further strengthening in business relationships, and Mineforce was invited to tender the supply of all rigging and scaffolding services for the annual re-bricking shutdown at the Mount Isa Mine site, including the replacement of insulation and stainless steel cladding to the mine’s main gas stack. Mineforce was successful with its tender submission and completed all the work to tender requirements. The company went on to provide services to a range of Xstrata divisions across the Mount Isa region over the next six years, growing its workforce to over 100 personnel in the process.
From the beginning, Mineforce was involved in work that required refurbishment or small scale fabricated items to complete construction and installation projects. The company initially established a small fabrication facility for this purpose but the diversity of jobs offered by Xstrata made the need for a full steel fabrication and machining workshop obvious. Mineforce established its current workshop facility in Townsville in 2005, then expanded the facility to double its size in 2009, installing over $1.4 million in new machinery. This expansion was undertaken to retain key personnel during the global financial crisis and proved an astute decision, as the facility has strengthened the company’s long-term competitive position. Mineforce now operates one of the best equipped steel fabrication and machine shops in North Queensland.
At the urging of a colleague, Martin Hansen visited China in 2007 to inspect a range of major steel fabrication workshops. It was evident that, with a strategic approach to managing quality, Mineforce could develop the capacity to deliver large scale supply projects not previously available to, or considered from a company of this size. Seizing the opportunity, Martin established a partnership with a major workshop and most importantly, developed a detailed strategy for quality control. Ongoing research and effective management has resulted in offshore fabrication becoming a major factor in the growth and success of Mineforce.
Since 2008, Mineforce has grown its capability to deliver major steel fabrication projects from its offshore partners, within schedule, meeting or exceeding all Australian standards and with substantial cost savings for the client. Mineforce augments its international fabrication capacity with the Townsville-based fabrication and machine workshops, providing the ability to separate and fabricate individual sections and deliver on very short timeframes.
In 2012, it was this combined local and international fabrication capability that enabled Mineforce’s engagement in Stages 2 and 3 of Ernest Henry Mine’s new Headframe, part of the ‘Life of Mine’ extension and transition from open cut to underground mining. This project comprised the fabrication, delivery and construction of 1,200 tonnes of steelwork. Mineforce was contracted to meet a delivery time of 16 weeks and delivered all steel on site, to specification and prior to it being required for construction. Mineforce achieved similar outcomes in undertaking construction of Xstrata’s new bulk handling facilities on Berth 8 at the Port of Townsville, with the first of the major steel deliveries on site one month ahead of scheduled requirements.
Over the past six years, Mineforce has developed its project management capabilities to successfully undertake SMP and EPC and management contracting roles. Mineforce maintains a professional and specialised Project Management team with the appropriate skills to manage the range of projects the company undertakes.
In 2013, Mineforce undertook a major review of its operating structures and strategic planning processes resulting in a new five-year Strategic Plan for the company. This has resulted in the establishment of three separate operating Divisions being Projects, Plant and Equipment and Fabrications, supported by corporate, marketing, administration and human resources services. This strategic plan is part of the overall commitment to continual improvement by Mineforce, and will ensure the continued growth and viability of the company into the future.