A ‘transformational’ year for SA-based Beach Energy

South Australian-based Beach Energy has more than doubled its workforce across Australia in the past year, with the company also expecting its biggest investment year on record in 2019/20.

The oil and gas producer has set a record capital expenditure budget of $460-$540 million, reflective of opportunities it expects to flow on from a recent $1.6 billion acquisition of Origin Energy subsidiary, Lattice Energy.

With Beach Energy releasing its FY full report last week, CEO Matt Kay tells Brand SA News the past 12 months have been “transformational” as the company increased its footprint from only the Cooper Basin to five basins across Australia and New Zealand.

“We’ve had a significant increase in the last year in terms of our employees, about 12 months ago we had less than 200 employees and they were all in SA,” he says.

“We now have around 500 (across Australia) and in SA we have about 250.

“We’ve brought 30 new people into Adelaide in the last three months and we probably have another 30 new people coming in the next three months.”

Beach Energy’s head office is in Glenside south east of Adelaide’s CBD, while the company’s main operating site is the Cooper Basin, in the state’s far north.

The Cooper Basin in the state’s far north, and extending interstate is Beach Energy’s core operation.

The Cooper Basin and overlying Eromanga Basin make up the country’s biggest onshore oil and gas province, extending over northern SA, NT, Queensland and NSW.

“The Cooper Basin has been going for a very long time, since the 1960s, but it has a new lease of life in the last couple of years,” Matt says.

“We’ve been more efficient as operators in the Cooper, we’ve got our costs down so we’re now making some genuine money, which is why we are reinvesting.”

Beach Energy also has plans to expand its gas discovery in the state’s South East with assistance from the SA Government’s PACE Gas grant program.

While it has commenced drilling of conventional gas well Haselgrove-3, the company is also planning to drill a new appraisal well, Haselgrove-4, about 7km south of Penola.

Haselgrove-4 will be drilled in conjunction with an earlier announced exploration well, Dombey-1, 20km from Penola, with both activities expected to commence by early 2019.

Designs are also underway for an upgrade of the existing Katnook gas processing facility, with the Federal Government granting $6m from the Gas Acceleration Program towards the project.

Beach’s drilling operations at Haselgrove-3, the company’s well near Penola in the South East.

While the new processing facility will provide “much needed processing capacity”, Beach Energy has a strong focus on the local community and ensuring the company remains transparent about its plans.

The amount of jobs set to flow in the region because of the new projects is yet to be determined, but Matt says the company last year contributed $1.4 million to the local economy through its activities, giving an indication of the benefits.

Beach Energy was founded in Adelaide in the 1960s by geologist and conservationist Dr Reg Sprigg before being relocated to Melbourne and Sydney in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

After experiencing highs and lows, the company formerly known as Beach Petroleum, was brought back home to SA.

Matt says a clear decision was made following the Lattice acquisition to keep Beach Energy here.

“One of the advantages of being based in SA is we can keep our cost structures relatively low (and) we already have all the expertise we need here, we just need to supplement that, that’s why we’ve been growing our staff numbers,” he says.

“We have the right support from the State and Federal governments, and we can keep growing in this state.”

Beach Energy CEO Matt Kay. Photo by James Knowler / @jkcrewphotos

While Matt was born and raised in SA, his career has taken him to Perth, Dubai and Sydney, in addition to stints in the Middle East, Africa and through Asia.

Spending more than a decade at Woodside Energy and more recently Oil Search, he returned to SA to take on the role at Beach in 2016.

He says the oil and gas sector is currently in “growth mode” and that opportunities do exist for SA’s next generation of workers to pursue long-term careers in the industry.

“There are many opportunities in the sector in all disciplines, from finance, legal and community, environmental, geology, engineering, the whole spectrum,” he says.

“It’s certainly not (just about) people being out in the field and covered in dirt and dust. There is a lot of development in high technology, knowledge and capability in the industry.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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OZ Minerals’ Katie Hulmes: SA mining sector creating benefits for all

South Australian geologist and engineer Katie Hulmes admits that earlier in her mining career, she’d look around and realise the room was full of men.

But that scenario is increasingly changing, says the 35-year-old General Manager Transformation and Readiness at one of South Australia’s largest mining companies, OZ Minerals.

She says it’s both men and women who have helped shape her successful career in mining, an industry that employs 10,000 South Australians.

“I’ve been really lucky to work with amazing men and women throughout my entire career, and OZ Minerals has always brought a diversity of thought and process to what we do,” she says.

“It’s definitely changed over the years, absolutely there are more women now.”

Joining the ASX-listed company in 2008, Katie’s current role involves helping OZ Minerals – one of Australia’s largest copper producers – progress as a modern mining company.

She began her career in the mining sector at the age of just 17, working as a field engineer for Golder Associates while, at the same time, pursuing a geology degree at the University of Adelaide.

The 35-year-old has not only managed to establish a career in the state’s mining sector, but maintain it here too, and says opportunities exist for others to follow suit.

Oz Minerals General Manager of Transformation and Readiness Katie Hulmes is an I Choose SA ambassador. Photo by James Knowler / JKTP.

“I’m a firm believer that individuals can create opportunities and SA is full of them,” says Katie, an I Choose SA ambassador for the energy and mining sector.

“I think when people go into university, they shouldn’t be thinking that they can’t because they absolutely can get a job in mining.

“Mining doesn’t just need people to come out with degrees in geology and mining engineering, we need people with a range of skills – as an example we employ data scientists, communication specialists, lawyers, nanotechnology engineers and biochemists.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter the field you study, there are opportunities in this industry.”

Katie took an unconventional path into the workforce, working full-time in the mining industry while undertaking her bachelor’s degree.

After Golder Associates, she worked for a company then called Resource and Environmental Management at Prominent Hill, south east of Coober Pedy in the state’s Far North.

Prominent Hill is OZ Minerals’ copper-gold mining operation that produces one of the market’s highest grades of copper concentrate.

While flying in and out of Prominent Hill, Katie also pursued her second degree, a Bachelor of Engineering (civil and environmental).

She witnessed OZ Minerals’ transformation in 2015, when it relocated its headquarters from Melbourne to Adelaide to be closer to its flagship operation.

Aside from Prominent Hill and projects across Australia and in Brazil, OZ Minerals also owns Carrapateena, a copper gold deposit 160km north of Port Augusta.

“SA was a local place to our operating asset at the time. It was a more affordable place to do business, so it made sense to position ourselves here,” Katie says.

“We changed our workforce, our direction and our vision and really tried to lift being a modern mining company to the forefront of everything we do.

“It allowed us to reconsolidate. It was an exciting time.”

Last year came a big announcement – board approval of a $916m investment to develop the Carrapateena mine.

The project is set to create 1000 jobs from construction through to production. It will be a 4.5 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) underground operation with an estimated life of 20 years.

Construction on site has commenced, with the airstrip completed recently. Commissioning of the mine is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Katie says the operation will not only benefit direct job creation, but will also have flow on effects for supply chain companies throughout the Upper Spencer Gulf.

The impact on local community’s livelihood and prosperity will also be felt, she says.

“There is excitement in the community around Carrapateena getting started,” Katie says.

“As we are promising local employment and procurement, I believe there will be flow on opportunities for the next 20 years in the region.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Hillgrove Resources GM on SA’s world-class mining operations

As Hillgrove Resources explores ground-breaking opportunities for its Adelaide Hills copper mine in the energy business, its well-travelled general manager Lachlan Wallace is relishing being part of a world-class operation.

He’s a firm supporter of plans for a pumped hydro energy storage project at the Kanmantoo mine along with exploring some of the state’s untapped copper potential in the South East.

“Having worked overseas and seeing how mining is done elsewhere, it made me realise Australia is the best at mining effectively, we are the world leaders in mining practice and by a long stretch,” Lachlan says.

“I think also having lived and worked in Europe, Asia, Africa and on the east coast of Australia during the past 20 years, there’s no better place to live, nowhere more liveable than South Australia.”

It’s a bold statement from the proud South Australian whose diverse career kicked off with a mining engineering degree at the University of South Australia’s Mawson Lakes campus.

His first job was in Tasmania at the Savage River iron ore mine where Lachlan delivered wide-reaching training from equipment operation to surveying, geology and production engineering.

Hillgrove Resources general manager and I Choose SA ambassador Lachlan Wallace. Photo by James Knowler / JKTP

It was around the seven-year mark that his wife Rebecca, a talented jewellery maker he met at a Blackwood fruit and vegetable shop, was offered a rare opportunity to train in one of the world’s creative epicentres, Milan, in Italy.

“We both moved to Italy,” Lachlan says, and the decision also launched his own international career.

He worked out of Johannesburg in Africa on mines in Zambia and Guinea, in Switzerland and India and then the couple moved to Indonesia, before deciding it was time to move home.

“I’d been watching the project at Kanmantoo for a long time and saw it as an exciting new development in the Adelaide Hills where there hadn’t been any open cut mining for 30 years,” Lachlan says.

In February, 2012, Lachlan was named its mine manager, then in 2015 its general manager, working in a region thought to be one of the most under explored and prospective base metal provinces in Australia.

At this stage, the copper mine has a licence until the end of 2019, with Lachlan saying about nine months of mining is ahead and an additional 18 months of processing on site.

Work is also underway to look at the possibility of underground mining and also creating the onsite pumped hydro facility by 2021.

“We have what we believe would be the lowest capital cost per megawatt pumped hydro facility in Australia,” Lachlan says.

“It could provide a much-needed energy storage solution and network stability for SA’s electricity grid.

“We are looking to build a facility that would store over 14 times the energy of the much talked about Tesla battery in the state’s north, for only double the cost.”

The mine is also recognised for it cutting edge technology.

When Lachlan arrived he found a way to create a pit with steeper sides saying for each degree steeper millions of dollars in costs were saved.

The operation has also been recognised for its commitment to working with the local community.

At the moment, 85% of its 200 FTE and 60 FTE contractors live in the local region including nearby towns stretching from Murray Bridge to Mt Barker.

There’s been a strong relationship built over the years, and the Kanmantoo and Callington communities are currently working with the company to develop a 30-year regional master plan for the site and the region.

Hillgrove Resources sponsors local events and sporting teams, and each quarter holds a public meeting alternately at the Callington or Kanmantoo town halls.

In 2016, the Hillgrove Resources and Kanmantoo Callington Community Consultation Committee won the Premier’s excellence in supporting communities in the mining and energy awards.

“One of the most enjoyable aspects has been working with the local Kanmantoo and Callington communities to develop a regional master plan which seeks to ensure that the mine’s presence results in a lasting positive legacy to the community surrounding the mine,” Lachlan says.

“The work that Hillgrove and the local community is doing is recognised as best in industry, something of which I am very proud.

“It demonstrates that mining can have a positive impact on local communities beyond employment, and sets the bar for community engagement which is essential to ensure social acceptance of mining into the future.”

“Keeping young people is so important to regional communities and that means creating jobs so they don’t have to leave the area where they grew up in to find work, we’ve managed to do that successfully around Kanmantoo.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Sanjeev Gupta announces Whyalla solar farm the size of 550 Adelaide Ovals

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has announced plans for a solar farm covering an area the size of 550 Adelaide Ovals as part of his $US1 billion renewable energy plan for the Upper Spencer Gulf.

SIMEC ZEN Energy – part of Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance – announced the plans for one of Australia’s largest solar farms alongside South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and local Mayor Lyn Breuer in Whyalla on August 15.

The Cultana Solar Farm is the first project to be unveiled as part of Mr Gupta’s landmark $US1 billion, one gigabit dispatchable renewable energy program.

The Cultana solar project will feature 780,000 solar panels generating 600GWh of energy per year, enough to power 96,000 homes, and according to Mr Gupta will help bring down energy prices.

“Today’s event is symbolic of our desire to develop and invest in new-generation energy assets that will bring down Australia’s electricity prices to competitive levels again, as well as our commitment to local and regional Australia,” he says.

“In particular, this signals the beginning of our journey with a number of stakeholders to not only transform GFG’s operations in Whyalla, but also further enhance the appeal of this great city.”


In 2017, Mr Gupta’s company GFG Alliance bought the Whyalla steelworks and iron ore mines, saving thousands of local steel industry jobs.

The Cultana Solar Farm will generate 350 jobs during construction and 10 ongoing operation and maintenance positions.

Development approval is expected later this year before works begin in the first quarter of 2019.

Mr Gupta says Cultana, along with SIMEC ZEN’s second solar project to be built nearby, will become one of the largest solar farms in the country.

He says the renewable energy projects will not only improve reliability and drop energy costs for his own operations, but will provide competitive sources of power for other commercial and industrial users.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer says the city’s council is keen to partner with GFG Alliance in coming decades, including leasing a portion of land for the Cultana project.

She says the solar project signalled to the nation that Whyalla is open for business.

SIMEC ZEN Energy is pursuing a number of other renewable energy projects in the region, including cogeneration at GFG’s Whyalla Primary Steel plant using waste gas, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery and pumped hydro projects at GFG’s Middleback Ranges mining operations.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Solar River Project to create hundreds of jobs for Goyder region

Hundreds of South Australian jobs will be created and thousands of homes powered with the construction of a $450m solar power project near Robertstown in the Mid North.

Stage one construction of one of the state’s largest solar power ventures – Solar River Project – will begin in 2019 featuring a 200mW solar photovoltaic (PV) array and 120mW battery.

The first stage also includes a 35km-long transmission line to the national grid, delivering power to at least 90,000 Australian homes.

The man behind the project is passionate South Australian Jason May and business partner Richard Winter, who is a lawyer based in Perth.

Jason says Solar River Project will help “disrupt” the energy sector by delivering cheaper electricity and push SA’s renewable energy status.

Managing director Jason May.

“It’s certainly the start of something very big in the energy sector for SA,” he says.

“We’ve been chipping away at it, photovoltaics have been a little bit expensive but they’re coming down. There is a boom in the energy sector at the moment.”

Jason says about 350 jobs will be created during the two years of construction, including a further 20-50 permanent positions throughout the 25-year life of the facility, by way of engineering roles and project managers.

“The contractor has agreed to source as much of that (construction jobs) locally as they can, so that means everything from labourers to plant operators will come from that whole region,” he says.

Stage two construction will commence in the fourth quarter of 2019 and will include an additional 200mW with a 150mWh battery.

Jason says the State Government’s proposed electricity interconnector with NSW could unlock potential for future stages of Solar River to supply power to 450,000 homes across the country.

“That (interconnector) is very exciting for the industry, but also the region because it unlocks 1200mW of connection … billions of dollars’ worth of investment will go ahead as a result of that interconnector,” he says.

Jason has more than 35 years working in the energy sector, both nationally and internationally.

The layout of the solar PV array.

He says the idea for a renewables project had been on his mind since 2002, a time when he was working as a senior project manager at ElectraNet.

Jason met Richard Winter in Sydney about a decade ago when the pair was working on renewable projects at bank Investec.

They became mates, eventually travelling to the Mid North and following Goyder’s Line until they found the perfect location for a solar farm that was close to the national grid.

Solar River Project is being run out of the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab on North Terrace by a team of 40 people including university graduates.

Jason says price points on photovoltaics and large battery systems have dropped dramatically in the past two years, making large scale solar projects more feasible.

“When you think what resources does SA have … we have tonnes of solar and tonnes of wind, let’s build plants here that harness that energy, connect to the grid and sell that to the eastern seaboard,” he says.

Solar River Project is privately funded through a mix of national and international investment and has received state development approval and backing from the Goyder Council.

A smoking ceremony was held on the Solar River site in January 2018. The solar project developers have collaborated with local Indigenous groups.

Jason has also worked closely with local Indigenous groups, establishing a Ngadjuri National Aboriginal Corporation Heritage Agreement and a regional heritage fund with the Goyder Council.

Local flora and fauna protection programs will also go ahead, as will sponsorship of local sporting teams and facilities.

The May family name is well-known in SA, with Jason’s forebears Frederick and Alfred May founding engineering and manufacturing firm May Brothers & Co in Gawler in 1885.

Frederick is remembered as a “mechanical genius” and one of Australia’s greatest engineers, with a plaque installed in his honour on North Terrace in Adelaide.

Jason went on to reinstate the May Brothers name and has since led a number of energy projects.

He says SA’s big renewable ventures such as Tesla’s big battery in the Mid North has put the global spotlight on the state.

“SA is the far most progressive out of all the states when you look at all the statistics coming out of AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator),” he says.

“Let’s step it up and take it to the next level.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Scientist of the Year drills into mining breakthroughs

South Australia’s top scientist is hoping world-leading drill rig technology created in this state will generate millions of dollars for the local mineral exploration industry.

The RoXplorer rig was developed at the state’s renowned Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC) and is being hailed as a game-changer in cutting costs, time and improving safety.

Geologist and explorer Professor Richard Hillis says vast tracts of the continent contained potential undercover mineral deposits currently too difficult and expensive for geologists to pursue.

“What I’m hoping for is this new cheaper and safer drilling will spark a new wave of undercover exploration and discovery in SA and Australia,” he says.

The rig was developed under Professor Hillis’s leadership as chief executive of the CRC.

And it was this work, along with his extensive contribution to his field and in commercialising a range of world-leading technology that led to Professor Hillis being named the state’s Scientist of the Year on August 10.

The revolutionary new drill rig, the RoXplorer, has been labelled a “game-changer” for the mining sector.

The Scotsman first joined the University of Adelaide in 1992 and held positions that included Mawson Professor of Geology and Head of the Australian School of Petroleum, before he joined the DET CRC for the past eight years.

Professor Hillis believes the future of SA’s mining sector and its supply chain industries is promising.

“I think job opportunities are good at the minute, the mining industry is picking up and probably longer term, and hopefully it will be less cyclic in mining services,” he says.

The potential value of discoveries during Professor Hillis’s time at the DET CRC was estimated to be US$200m in extra value each year to Australia, according to Industry and Skills Minister David Pisoni.

“His work at the DET CRC has led to the commercialisation of technologies with projected future licensing income of around $3m per year,” Mr Pisoni said at the SA Science Excellence Awards night.

“For example, the RoXplorer, a coiled tubing rig developed by the centre, is a revolutionary game-changer for the mining sector and has recently been licensed to global mining equipment, services and technology giant IMDEX.

“This rig will drill low-cost bores and produce a suite of real-time geological data at a drilling cost of $50 per metre, around one sixth of the typical cost.”

SA Scientist of the Year Professor Richard Hillis.

The RoXplorer CT rig replaced individual drill rods with a continuous steel coil.

“In my view, research works best when industry defines the problem, industry knows what challenges it has and in this case, industry had to drill holes cheaper or Australia was going to lose mineral exploration,” Prof Hillis says.

“In the old days, if you were at 1000m you unscrewed 333 drill rods to put a new drill bit on and screwed them back on and got the drill bit to the bottom of the hole.

“What this rig, that drills about six times cheaper than conventional drilling, will do, is make mineral exploration in Australia cost effective again.”

Professor Hillis says the RoXplorer rig was successfully tested earlier this year near Port Augusta and another site at Horsham in Victoria.

Since then it was licensed to the ASX-listed global mining equipment, services and technology giant IMDEX, with its headquarters in Perth, and a new drilling trial was now set to happen with Barrick Gold exploration in Nevada, USA.

While he was now planning a year off after finishing at the DET CRC, Professor Hillis suggests those wanting to explore the world of mining, energy or geology in SA should take advantage of the state’s focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“We have good courses, I think there are currently not as many students in them as we would like,” he says.

“I’m feeling positive about employment at the minute but the mining sector can be cyclic.”

DET CRC chairman Tom Whiting is proud of the research centre’s work, saying its major technologies – Wireless Sub, Lab-at-Rig, AutoSonde, AutoShuttle and RoXplorer CT drilling system – had been taken to working prototype and licensed in revenue-generating agreements to supplier participants, Boart Longyear and IMDEX.

The project team developing the RoXplorer coiled tubing drilling system was led by Soren Soe and it also received contributions from Boart Longyear, CSIRO, Curtin University, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide and IMDEX.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Zero-emission car service rolling out in SA

South Australia’s first zero-emission car service is rolling out across Adelaide, in support of the city council’s push for the southern capital to become carbon neutral.

The chauffeur service myCar, based at Tonsley Innovation District, aims to help reduce transport emissions and promote electric vehicle technology.

myCar founder and director Mark Harrington says the zero-emission vehicle service began in 2017 with a fleet of luxury hybrid Lexus and Mercedes cars, as well as electric Tesla vehicles.

However, he says the company is now shifting towards adding less expensive car brands to its fleet, including the Mitsubishi Outlander, a hybrid vehicle that services “at taxi prices”.

myCar still uses its luxury Tesla vehicles the ‘Model S’ and ‘ Model X’, which have a range of about 400km before running flat.

Mark says myCar will soon release new software, including an app, allowing passengers to choose their preferred type of vehicle and their favourite driver.

myCar founder and director Mark Harrington is the brains behind SA’s first zero-emission car service.

“Not only are we the first zero-emission car service in SA, but we are the only,” he says.

“It’s new technology like this that will enable drivers to become your affordable personal concierge on wheels so the experience feels like being in your own fancy car, only better.”

Mark says he envisages the app to also include information on public transport services such as trains and buses, and also flights.

“I can imagine a day where people don’t own their own cars at all, but it’s all about ride sharing and using transport through an app,” he says.

He can also see the day when autonomous vehicles in SA eventually become less of a novelty and more of a reality.

“At myCar we’re already running Teslas in auto pilot mode (with backup drivers of course), but I think that we’ll still have drivers for a while,” Mark says.

“For now, I expect that the sharing economy and autonomous driving will make it less important for more people to own their own vehicle.”

Mark has taken inspiration from successful trials in Holland and is now collaborating with Flinders University and local business Gelco to export electricity from car batteries to power households.

“Collaboration in business will enable us to realise our potential and make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city,” he says.

“At myCar we’re not just using the safest electric cars on the road, we’re supporting SA’s transition to sustainable energy by investing in electric and autonomous vehicle research.”

One of myCar’s Tesla vehicles.

myCar is a founding partner of Carbon Neutral Adelaide, an Adelaide City Council driven ambition to make the southern capital the world’s first carbon neutral city.

Carbon Neutral Adelaide aims to increase the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicle registrations to 15% by 2021.

Emissions from transport contribute to 35% of Adelaide’s total emissions with 90% of that coming from private passenger cars, according to the Adelaide City Council.

The myCar fleet is charged on electric car charging infrastructure set up across the state including regional areas and at locations across the city.

Mark grew up in the Adelaide Hills, becoming a global finance advisor overseas before moving home to run his own Adelaide-based firm, Infrastructure Finance Australia.

His decision to branch out into the transport industry carried on his family’s history in personalised chauffeur services, with his grandfather Jack Harrington running a horse-drawn carriage business in the Hills for many years.

Adelaide’s movement in the renewable energy space plus its strong entrepreneurial ecosystem made the perfect launchpad for myCar, Mark says.

“There is a great entrepreneurial spirit in Adelaide and myCar is proud to be part of this growing, dynamic business community,” he adds.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Local business drilling into global markets

An uplift in the South Australian mining and energy sector is seeing Adelaide company Trymoss Engineering poised to capitalise on new opportunities.

Signs of new projects activating across the state means new contracts are appearing and Trymoss is already looking to employ new staff, according to chief executive Stephen Moss.

It’s good news for supply chain businesses like the small northern suburbs company that is developing technologies not only used on mining and energy projects in SA, but on a global scale too.

Stephen says Trymoss Engineering and its 15 staff have been kept busy in the past few years as the business, established by his father, Jason Moss in 1992, has concentrated on its diverse revenue streams.

“In the last 12 to 18 months it has really picked up again, we’re up to five or six cylinders for a particular company, and we’ve picked up four or five new customers in recent months,” he says.

Family business Trymoss Engineering, based in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has been manufacturing fittings and machinery since the early ’90s.

Trymoss Engineering specialises in hydraulic cylinder and manufacture repair for the mining industry and down-hole repairs on threads and tooling.

The hydraulic cylinders are designed and manufactured for excavators and trucks.

Then there’s also work Trymoss undertakes in the Australian agriculture, water, waste and transport industries, building or fixing hydraulics for anything from buckets on tractors to hooks on cranes.

“We’re just never one to put eggs in one basket, we do a vast array of machining and fabricating and fittings,” Stephen says.

“And now we’ve also found ourselves in a pretty niche part of the market manufacturing hydraulics to meet custom needs.”

This Trymoss product is a ‘CNC machining cooling hub’ for use in a power plant.

The company is also responsible for breakthrough technology tested and developed in SA.

It was when Stephen heard about American oil and gas companies struggling with a drill continually getting stuck on horizontal coal seams that he headed to the workshop to find a solution.

The Centrefire system that emerged from his tinkering has now been proved, patented in Canada, China, Russia, Australia and most recently the United States, and is primed and ready to tackle the recent uplift in the oil and gas industry.

“It’s unique, it’s the only one of its kind … and now we’re ready to roll,” says Stephen, who is chief executive of Trymoss Engineering and also its sister company and owner of the Centrefire technology, HPHT Drilling Tools.

The down-hole technology works by vibrating a drill or drill string to prevent tools from getting stuck or damaged during underground mining – and it first proved itself on its maiden outing with Beach Energy in SA during 2014.

Drill bits were continually breaking during the local project that involved particularly hard ground so the Centrefire was fitted above the bit “and acted a bit like a shock absorber and gently pulsed it forward”.

Trymoss Engineering chief executive Stephen Moss, left, and his brother Mitchell
Moss putting the Centrefire together.

The tool, Mr Moss said, prevented any further drill breakages.

On the back of this early success, Stephen took his invention to the US and quickly garnered interest from Canadian-based Cougar Drilling Solutions, and within months he was running some 20 jobs in Texas during 2015.

“We’d sent 10 to 15 units over to America and we couldn’t keep up,” he said.

But then the oil and gas crash hit, Cougar Drilling Solutions pulled out of the US, leaving HPHT Drilling Tools and its Centrefire tool “a bit stranded”.

While other parts of the business kept the work flowing, Stephen continued to prepare the Centrefire technology, organising the patents and ensuring it was well tested in the field.

The Centrefire in pieces.

Now the company is seeing an uplift in the oil and gas industry “especially in America where we were doing work before, in the past six months we’ve re-established connections with a few agents and we were back over there running a job in Oklahoma about three months ago”.

The new work secured overseas is not only creating more jobs in SA – as Trymoss expanded its workforce this year and HPHT is further developing the Centrefire technology – but it’s also strengthening the state’s ties with international mining and resource sectors.

HPHT Drilling Tools is also working hard to protect its technology, only renting out the tool and not selling the product or the engineering designs in its work in Australia and the US.

Stephen claims his invention is far easier to use than similar products on the market that are much larger and harder to transport to site or to service or fix if they are damaged.

“I’m planning to head back to the US in the next month or so for a new job in Texas, that will be our first job with a new group and the potential is really, really promising,” he adds.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Energy and mining sector sparks growth for Energy LogistiX

The growth of South Australia’s mining and energy sector has prompted a local freight and transport business to plan towards establishing a base in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

Family owned and operated Energy LogistiX, which specialises in project transport and logistics solutions and is based near the Port of Adelaide, is hoping to expand its operations and open a depot in Whyalla or Port Augusta in the next 12 months.

Managing director Shaun Williamson says SA’s flourishing mining and energy sector – buoyed by various multimillion dollar investments in the state’s Far North – has been a “game-changer” for his small team of 38 employees.

Shaun says Energy LogistiX will open a depot in the Upper Spencer Gulf region within the next year to cater for an increasing demand from clients based in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Energy LogistiX managing director Shaun Williamson.

There are more than a dozen resources and renewable energy investment projects underway in the Upper Spencer Gulf including the Bungala solar power plant near Port Augusta and a world first solar powered tomato farm developed by Sundrop Farms.

“Every year we have been growing as a business by 30-50% year on year,” Shaun says.

“For us, the energy and mining sector has made a substantial difference … it’s a big deal for little companies like ours.”

Energy LogistiX’s fleet of rigids, semi-trailers and road trains are used to haul heavy equipment and other materials to service primarily the mining, oil and gas sector.

Shaun says the business has a strong focus on delivering “time critical” services, using smart integrated monitoring technology to track freight throughout its journey.

The technology also allows communication between fleet operators and clients, to deliver a “premium service that is unmatched in this space of project transport and logistics solutions”.

The smart integrated monitoring technology allows Energy LogistiX to keep track of freight in real time.

Energy LogistiX transports materials and heavy machinery including dangerous goods, cranes, drill casings, mining equipment, oil and gas materials and rigs, concrete trucks and large loaders.

Many of its clients are some of the biggest players in the state’s mining and energy sector, including BHP Billiton at Olympic Dam, one of the world’s biggest copper, gold and uranium mines, and Santos for its Port Bonython and Moomba operations.

For more than two years, Energy LogistiX has been working with mining company CU River, to iron ore mine, Cairn Hill, 50km south of Coober Pedy in the state’s Far North.

It has also transported heavy mining equipment, such as dump trucks, water trucks, cranes, concrete trucks and large loaders to Cairn Hill, one of the new mining projects on the horizon.

Shaun says the small family business is also hoping to secure work in the near future with OZ Minerals at its Carrapateena operation – Australia’s largest undeveloped copper deposit.

He says running a small business and being a part of the supply chain for one of the state’s largest industries often comes with its challenges.

“It’s difficult because our competitors are multinational corporations,” Shaun says.

“But we’re SA owned and operated, so give us a shot and keep the business within our state, just as we choose to support other family owned and operated businesses in SA.

“Keeping it local is key to our future and success.

“We’re big enough and capable enough to take on these multimillion dollar contracts and we will always deliver on our promise.”

Energy LogistiX started from humble beginnings – sprouting from a small-time operation run out of the Williamson family’s small unit in Port Adelaide.

That was in 2010 and eight years on it’s now based at a 28,000m2 office and depot facility near the Osborne Naval Shipbuilding Precinct.

Shaun’s mother Jo Williamson co-founded the business and has a strong background in working in the oil and gas sector.

Shaun, a professional motocross and supercross racer, has a background also working on oil rigs.

“We’re both against the grain; Mum is a female in a male dominated industry and we started with nothing,” he says.

“Now we’re working for our blue chip clients delivering our vision of being the best at what we do day in day out.”

Photos by 57 Films.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Building a bright future in Upper Spencer Gulf

When British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta signed a deal to turn around the fortunes of Whyalla and its struggling steelworks, he not only saved thousands of jobs but also injected an extraordinary boost of confidence into the region.

His widespread investment has Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer brimming with optimism for the state’s Upper Spencer Gulf and Business SA’s chief executive Nigel McBride relishing a wider lift in the economy.

Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance bought the town’s ailing steelworks from Arrium when it was in administration with some 6000 jobs under threat.

“We were in a really, really bad patch and it seemed like we were in a situation we weren’t going to get out of, when Mr Gupta came along and GFG it was such a blessed relief,” Mrs Breuer says.

Now she says the plans just keep getting better with announcements that the GFG Liberty OneSteel plant will double production and create a greener business model with more recycled steel and a focus on clean energy.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer speaks at a handover ceremony on the day GFG Alliance took over the steelworks. Photo by Jon Ortlieb.

Mr Gupta wants to build solar farms along with the country’s largest lithium ion battery and to eventually also develop new housing in Whyalla.

Contracts are being signed to upgrade the plant and Mrs Breuer says investigations are underway to expand the Whyalla port while GFG Alliance is taking on a majority stake in ZEN Energy to realise its national energy ambitions.

“People understand in the next 12 months we’ll see a real turn around in our town, we are looking toward to a more positive future than we ever have before,” Mrs Breuer says.

This key investment comes amid remarkable growth, particularly in renewable energy, in the region.

There are some 13 new investment projects underway, among them the Bungala solar power plant near Port Augusta being under construction, while the much-lauded concentrated solar thermal plant owned by Sundrop Farms is already running a hydroponic greenhouse to grow tomatoes.

Mayors from Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Pirie met on Friday last week to discuss how their councils can help ensure there will be enough skilled workers to fill the expected rapid rise in job openings.

Mrs Breuer says Mr Gupta has certainly piqued the interest of other global investors.

An aerial view of the Whyalla steelworks. Photo by Jon Ortlieb.

Whyalla council officers were invited to China for meetings with two more companies keen on investing.

While in January, Becker Helicopters announced it was moving some 70 staff and its training operation from Queensland to the Upper Spencer Gulf city.

The state’s Industry and Skills Minister David Pisoni also reports a renewed optimism in the region more than 300km from Adelaide after visiting in June and July to talk with industry and small business people.

“The significant, and very much welcome, investment by Gupta Family Group in Whyalla is already having huge flow-on effects within the local community and beyond,” Mr Pisoni said.

“Employers and business have been given renewed confidence, the region is also attracting recognition and new investment from around the globe.”

The GFG Alliance itself is a global group of energy, mining, metals, engineering and financial services businesses, headquartered in London, with additional hubs in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney and a presence in around 30 countries worldwide.

Photo courtesy of Liberty OneSteel.

Business SA chief executive Nigel McBride says the state has attracted vital intelligent capital, capital that is leading to “global know how” around lowering material costs, greater energy efficiency and new products.

“GFG is bringing a global supply chain to Whyalla so we are part of something much bigger ….. and it’s not just people working directly in the steelworks that benefit, it’s also small businesses who service it and their employees.”

He believes the investment has given a huge boost to business confidence in regional SA at a time when the state’s job figures are rising.

Even the Federal Government is sending in cash, announcing funding of $19.4m for eight projects in the region during April that it hoped would create more than 500 new jobs.

The Upper Spencer Gulf was the only SA region, and one of only 10 nationally, to get pilot funding under the national $222m regional jobs and investment package.

The 1200 tonne crane German-made Liebherr all terrain crane will be used to build and maintain wind towers.

Max Cranes in Whyalla won $4.7m funding toward a $12m telescopic mobile crane – the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere – used to build and maintain wind towers.

While Whyalla’s Ice Engineering and Construction was awarded half the $10m cost of creating a hub for three existing Whyalla-based heavy engineering and manufacturing companies.

“It’s an extraordinary investment strategy in a range of complementary industries and resources that will be truly transformational in regional SA and across our state,” Mr McBride adds.

Header photo is courtesy of Liberty OneSteel.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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