There’s a saying ‘mud sticks’, but in the case of Gladstone civil construction company McCosker Contracting it would be only in the most complimentary terms.
The company has worked for many years on its amphibious Scrollers, built to deal most efficiently with the mud in tailings dams.
Its achievements saw McCosker win the Innovator Award at Gladstone Engineering Alliance’s 17th annual Industry Awards Night last week.
The company offers a diverse range of services to the mining, construction and industrial sectors.
McCosker Contracting general manager Danny Hughes said its mud farming innovations began in 2004, when the company started to design, build and operate machines servicing residue tailing facilities.
“We started with a Piston Bully snow plough concept that we were trialling as a replacement to a dozer, and we started pulling it apart to commence the building of the Scrollers,” he said.
“We then engineered the base first principles from scratch, with our own designers and a lot of research and development.”
Since then McCosker has built and operated seven machines across different tailing facilities, with current operations at Rio Tinto’s QAL, Yarwun and Gove sites.
The machines squeeze the water out of the mud and compact it at the same time.
The first of the amphibious, buoyant 15-tonne machines were chain driven, but all succeeding models have been propelled using McCosker’s custom, locally derived, hydraulic system.
Mr Hughes said the intent in the near future was to have the Scrollers totally autonomous and remote controlled.
He said company had not initially sought to go down the path of mud farming, but the issue arose when it was repairing tailings dams and undertaking dam wall lifts.
“We weren’t actively looking for tailings farming, but we had to address it if we wanted to do the bulk earthworks and other jobs McCosker were performing at this time,” he said.
“We spoke to suppliers who had history in tailings operations, and they weren’t doing exactly what we wanted, and didn’t have the same vision as us. So we thought we would invest in developing this concept.”
He said the McCosker technology was unique.
“Our machines are totally amphibious, they can float and go anywhere on tailings dams,” Mr Hughes said.
By squeezing and compacting the tailings, the capacity and longevity of dams is increased.
As McCosker developed and improved on the technology it had achieved significant productivity gains, Mr Hughes said.
The complete list of winners at the GEA Industry Awards Night included:
The Innovator Award – McCosker Contracting
The Safety Excellence Award – SOLAFT Filtration Systems
The Beale Culture Award – Xtreme Engineering
The Forty Calis Memorial Award – Daniel McDonald
The Wayne Peachey Memorial Award – Bert Thomas
GEA Hall of Fame Inductees – Marilyn & Ian Rayment