The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2021-05-09T23:28:21Z National Group meets mine growth ambitions 2021-05-09T23:28:21Z national-group-meets-mine-growth-ambitions As featured in Australian Mining Magazine, June 2021 Edition, ​​​​written by Vanessa Zhou. The mining industry’s reputation as a well-oiled machine is backed by the amount of hire equipment that National Group has sent to Australian mines this year. With multiple pieces of heavy earthmoving equipment sent out each month, National Group supports the continuity of Australia’s iron ore, metallurgical coal, gold, bauxite and manganese operations. This includes the delivery of two Caterpillar 775G service trucks and one Caterpillar 24 motor grader to a Blackwater mine in Queensland. All equipment was assembled at Hastings Deering’s factory in Brisbane, before being delivered by National Heavy Haulage to National Group’s Toowoomba yard in the Darling Downs region. This is where the machines start to come alive. Both 60-tonne 775G service trucks were set up to deliver reliable performance and low maintenance as soon as National Group put on their service modules and completed final assembly. The Cat 24 grader went through its final assembly stage and was mine-spec ready at National Group’s Blackwater yard. National Group managing director Mark Ackroyd says the 775G trucks were recommended based on the mining company’s use, capacity and size requirements.  “The 775G truck builds its credibility on Caterpillar’s 40-year history in building trucks. The mining company needs this type of service trucks because they’ll be tasked to service a large portion of the mine,” Ackroyd tells Australian Mining. “Accounting for the number of pits and haul roads, they required extra capacity within the mine. It wasn’t ordered as a replacement piece. And to avoid capital expenditures, they chose to hire the equipment from us.” The 775G trucks are equipped with the latest Gecko service module and a reliable dispensing unit capable of carrying 42,000 litres of fuel. They have been designed to ensure safe ergonomics to reduce driver fatigue and increase productivity. The 775G trucks also boast an “exceptionally smooth” shifting and ride quality thanks to Caterpillar’s new planetary powershift transmission control strategy. The strategy, called APECS, incorporates an electronic clutch pressure control that aids in torque shift management, retaining momentum through long shifts that support a 24/7 mining operation. Mining operators are treated to seven different ways to conserve fuel as they are free to customise two fuel economy modes for the desired levels of savings. Featuring Tier 4 final emission controls, Caterpillar has moved towards a low-carbon future by integrating a nitrogen oxide reduction system technology that produces cooler temperatures in the combustion chamber. The Cat 24 motor grader is also favoured for its power. Suitable for applications in wide haul roads, the Cat 24 is equipped with Cat Grade Control to help operators maintain the desired cross slope. It is powered by the Cat C27 engine to handle various working altitudes and offers 11 per cent additional weight to generate more traction and blade down pressure than the 24M motor grader. Operators can also rely on its consistency throughout changing ambient conditions as its consistent power-to-the-ground changes its real-time engine power levels to offset the shortcomings of the cooling fan. It validates the mining company’s choice to specifically hire the Cat 24 grader. Most importantly, Ackroyd says safety is at the top of the mining company’s mind. The Cat 24 grader, for example, is designed with 15 tie-off points around the engine enclosure and cab as a secure tie-off hook for operators and technicians when carrying out service operations. It also comes with a standard rear-view camera to expand the operator’s visibility from the cab to areas behind the machine. “Safety, reliability and quality are the three deciding factors for any mining company,” Ackroyd says. “To further help them achieve this, our skilled workforce can do maintenance for the hire equipment on site as well.” From early discussions to assembly, delivery and maintenance, National Group is committed to providing an end-to-end solution. Further Information Click here for more news from the National Group Click here for more information on the National Group. National Group, Equipped for Everything 2021-04-06T02:36:38Z national-group-equipped-for-everything A proactive approach to scaling mine production up and down in line with demand and a buoyant contract mining sector has led to Australia becoming a major market for mining equipment rental solutions. In recent years, fluctuating demand for the likes of lithium, iron ore and coal has seen brownfield operations open, expand and, in some cases, close. For this reason, the option to rent equipment from a company that has a fleet-wide availability of over 90% and can offer up to 700 operating hours per month, per unit, is in high demand. That company is Queensland-based National Group. National Group has over 300 units of heavy earthmoving equipment available for dry hire, but it is more than just a rental outfit. It can bolt on mining services, equipment transport, equipment sales and, in some cases, contract mining to this primary rental focus. This broad offering is well suited to an industry constantly looking to adapt to changes in demand from mineral and metal end users. “Our customers, which include major miners such as Rio Tinto, BHP, Anglo American and FMG to name a few, have been looking to replenish or grow their fleet at existing mines and, as capex is still fairly constrained, they continue to choose rental options over buying new equipment,” Mark Ackroyd, Founder and Managing Director of National Group, told International Mining. “They could be looking at having equipment for 12 months, two, or three years, for instance,” he said. “If they are looking to increase production or expand mine site operations, a rental option provides them with a scalable solution, allowing them to use the equipment for a period of time and give it back when it is no longer required.” This flexibility can prove worthwhile for not only mine construction projects where excavators, trucks, dozers and the like may be moving overburden ahead of ore mining, but where new satellite deposits might have come into the frame as commodity prices change for the better. In the latter situation, shifting mining equipment from a capex to opex item can make shorter mine life operation economics work. National Group and the equipment rental business case is benefitting from not only the Western Australia iron ore and gold sectors’ expansion plans, but also recent uncertainty surrounding demand for the country’s coal. Ackroyd explained: “The iron ore market has been significantly strong for the last nine or so months. It started rising in May 2020 and has continued to strengthen. That allows the key iron ore miners to spend on developing further production opportunities, which also creates an opening for us and our equipment rental options. In that regard, we have seen an increase in the need for equipment in iron ore. “At the same time, the changing dynamics with the supply of coal into China has changed the mind set of key coal miners. Whereas once they were looking to spend capex on equipment, they are now more readily considering renting as this uncertainty and the ensuing capital reductions leave them constrained.” He added on the coal market specifically: “The fact that we, as a dry hire company, can offer to rent these miners equipment that allows them to have the same or lower capex inputs with the same mine output helps boost their investment proposition with shareholders.” National Group is strengthening its offering to the market by preparing to add equipment such as Cat 6040 hydraulic excavators, Cat 24 motor graders, and Cat 793F haul trucks to its rental portfolio. The company has been able to continue building out this fleet in the face of COVID-19-related state restrictions in Australia thanks to facilities across several locations and its captive transport and logistics arm. National Group is also furthering its technology offering through the Wolff Mining division. Acquired by the National Group in mid-2019, Wolff came with large-scale satellite bulk dozer push and semi-autonomous blasthole drilling expertise. The semi-autonomous dozer push offering, now referred to as Semi-Autonomous Tractor System (SATS) technology by Wolff and National Group, won plaudits and admirers for its world first application of this solution in a mining production environment. Ackroyd said the company is continuing to invest in improving the SATS technology from a productivity and economic business case perspective. This has seen the company finance the development of a SATS truck that can travel to and park up at mine sites. The truck can accommodate multiple operators – with each operator able to control up to four dozers at a time, enabling semi-autonomous control of an entire fleet of dozers. Such a development could reduce the need to build a remote operations centre. National Group and Wolff Mining’s Semi- Autonomous Tractor System allows each operator to control up to four dozers at a time. Ackroyd expanded on this: “The new SATS truck has the latest technology – hardware and software – to enable the machines and satellites to better communicate. It will make the whole system a lot more efficient. “We’re now just waiting to deploy this truck at our next big SATS project.” Wolff’s semi-autonomous drilling offering is likely to be in high demand over the next three to five years too judging by the speed of autonomous blasthole drilling adoption across multiple mine sites in Australia. Ackroyd says the company is working on upgrading this offering in line with market trends. He said: “Fully-autonomous drilling will surely be the future, and we plan to be a part of that future.” Click here for more news from the National Group. Long-term dry hire of machinery here to stay 2021-03-01T03:19:43Z long-term-dry-hire-of-machinery-here-to-stay The growth of Australia’s mining industry has positioned long-term dry hire as a highly attractive option versus purchasing equipment over the past five years. This change in the mining industry has been driven by strategies to increase production, export volumes and bottom-line profitability. As mining fleets expand, companies that are constrained by capital availability are regularly choosing to opt for long-term dry hire over purchasing. National Group managing director, chief executive and founder, Mark Ackroyd, has witnessed this shift as his company has grown over the past 24 years. Dry hire now represents 90 per cent of National Group’s business. “Dry hire gives mining companies an option to free up capital expenditure without recording big-ticket purchases on their balance sheet,” Ackroyd tells Australian Mining. “They can continue using the equipment and give it back after 12 months, one year, two years or even more, without any ownership responsibility. “All they’re responsible for is fuel, the supply of operators and minor repairs. They can use the machine for as long as it’s required to get the job done and increase production.” It is no surprise that long-term dry hire has emerged as an appealing alternative for mining companies, given its benefits in current market conditions. National Group provides greater flexibility by offering two types of dry hire, with maintenance being an option that mining companies can choose to take onboard themselves. In this scenario, a mining company will carry out all the minor repairs and equipment services, with only the obligation of major repairs assumed by National Group. Alternatively, National Group also offers fully-maintained maintenance in which they are responsible for managing the machines onsite and conducting all equipment repairs, major or minor. This removes maintenance and safety hazards that mine site personnel may be exposed to, thereby minimising the risk for the mining company. This is also an attractive option for mine sites who do not have the resources. In both scenarios of dry hire, mining companies stand to gain from more accurate budgeting forecasts, greater flexibility and customisation of the equipment needed for their mining activities. National Group offers an extensive fleet, which includes a variety of large bulldozers, excavators and ultra-class dump trucks for dry hire. It has a fleet-wide availability of over 90 per cent, with each unit of equipment delivering up to 700 operating hours per month. “Our fleet comprises of around 300 plus units of heavy earthmoving equipment, with this number being added to weekly on average,” Ackroyd says. “We have regular interest from several Tier 1 Australian mining companies looking to hire equipment, with dozens of large and extra-large pieces of heavy mining equipment arriving soon.” Equipment such as Caterpillar 6040 excavators, Caterpillar 24 motor graders, and Caterpillar 793F trucks, are all machines being added to National Group’s line up. Ackroyd says the demand for equipment hire has increased as mining companies transition to an owner-miner approach, with commodity cycles continuing to advance. His confidence in this approach stands on the strength of the mining sector, which is the top contributor to Australia’s gross domestic product. When global uncertainty shook economies last year, Australia delivered record revenues for iron ore, gold and copper. Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals that the resources sector provided $270 billion into the economy in 2020. This represents 62 per cent of the country’s total export revenue, with iron ore exports soaring from $96 billion in 2019 to $116 billion in 2020. BHP and Rio Tinto, the world’s two largest miners, believe the strength of the iron ore market will be sustained. The companies foresee a persistent shortage in global iron ore supply, while a soaring demand for the commodity is expected to continue due to Chinese steelmaker activity. According to BHP, a National Group customer, this puts Australia in an advantageous position for its high-quality seaborne iron ore – an essential ingredient to blast-furnace steelmaking. BHP chief executive Mike Henry says that while the world is a more volatile and uncertain place today, the global economy is rebounding strongly despite the ongoing effects of COVID-19. “In steel, for example, we expect continuing strong end-use demand to underpin production of more than one billion tonnes in China for a third consecutive year,” Henry, speaking during BHP’s half-year results presentation, says. “Add population growth and further rises in living standards to this equation, and the conditions are very promising.” Ackroyd agrees that the mining sector is in a strong place and will continue to be in the next five years. “I don’t see any impending challenges in the mining industry over the next five years. It’s the number one driver of the Australian economy and a leader in the country’s COVID-19 economic recovery,” Ackroyd says. “But regardless of the positive landscape ahead, mining always comes with a certain degree of uncertainty. Dry hire allows mining companies to operate more effectively, and with greater flexibility in both good and more uncertain times.” Click here for more news from the National Group. Wolff Mining continues to breaks records at BMA Saraji Mine 2020-12-03T04:44:03Z wolff-mining-continues-to-breaks-records-at-bma-saraji-mine Wolff Mining, part of the National Group is well known for their heavy earthmoving capabilities. They are a key supplier of heavy earthmoving equipment to the mining sector on a dry hire or wet hire basis, with drilling equipment and services being no exception. For the past 16 months, Wolff Mining has been assisting BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Saraji in a sprint drilling capacity, providing drilling equipment and full contract mining services. Wolff Mining currently supplies BMA Saraji with a Cat M6420B Drill with GPS, and provides operational labour such as supervisors, drillers and fitters. The M6420B is one of Cat’s heavy duty drills designed for open pit mining, delivering reliable performance and operational safety. It is one of the favoured models by drillers around the world and encompasses leading features from the ultra-class to the mid-size rotary drill line. Some of the advanced features available include improved fuel efficiency, electro-hydraulic controls that provide increased operator safety and precision, computer controlled drilling, enhanced diagnostics and autonomous ready functions. November drilling at BMA Saraji has been undertaken in 270mm holes ranging in depth from 30m to 65+m in tertiary material. Wolff Mining recently achieved a milestone of 43,794 drilled metres (dm) for the month of November, beating the previous record of 41,500dm at BMA Saraji. “The performance of our Cat M6420B Drill has been exceptional” notes Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director. “It is very rare that a drilling company exceeds 40,000dm a month, so breaking the site record of 41,500dm at BMA Saraji and setting a new record of 43,794dm for the month of November is a great achievement”. “To achieve a milestone such as this takes a highly skilled and motivated team and a high quality piece of mining machinery such as the Cat M6420B Drill. I would like to congratulate the team here at Wolff Mining for their outstanding efforts and praise the performance of the CAT Drill” says Ackroyd. “Wolff Mining has continued to grow from strength to strength, with an expanding team and a growing fleet of mining equipment. 2020 has turned out to be an interesting year full of surprises, but it’s no surprise that we have continued to grow even during these challenging times”. “Working at BMA Saraji has been a pleasure and we look forward to continuing our work within the BMA group. We are dedicated to repeating these results, pushing the boundaries of possibilities and breaking new records into the future” concludes Ackroyd. Read MoreClick here to view more news from the National Group.Media ContactsContact us for more information on this story or to arrange an interview with Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director.Contact Lee Edmondson or Kain Ford, National Group Marketing Executives on marketing@national-group.co or 1300 096 618. The stage is set for economic recovery led by the mining industry 2020-11-16T01:23:53Z the-stage-is-set-for-economic-recovery-led-by-the-mining-industry As Australia gets on top of the second wave of COVID-19, the stage is set for economic recovery led by the mining industry. On 30 October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released economic data that has confirmed the importance of the mining industry to the Australian economy. Despite the overall economy contracting, mining industry GDP increased 4.9 per cent in 2019-20 which totalled $202 billion. This also made mining Australia’s largest industry with a 10.4 per cent share of the economy. COVID-19 has changed the way businesses operate, but executives must now look beyond the pandemic to other global issues that will shape the industry beyond 2020. According to a study prepared by Wood & Mackenzie in November 2020 for the National Group, Australia is as a leading global commodity producer and is currently the largest exporter of metallurgical coal and iron ore and the largest producer of bauxite. In August, Iron ore prices leapt to multi-year highs due to increased demand from China, with the price of gold hitting an all-time high in early August. In times of uncertainty, investors have historically turned to gold as a safe haven during downturns, volatility or crisis. However, some analysts predict that gold’s rally is far from over. Prices are expected to remain high through the remainder of 2020. Global seaborne demand for iron ore and steel is expected to grow, with growth expected from Southeast Asia. Despite its economic slowdown, China will continue to be the largest iron ore consuming nation for the foreseeable future. Australia is expected to continue to dominate the global supply of metallurgical coal and iron ore, which is primarily driven by steel demand. Iron ore is a key raw material necessary for the production of crude steel, with demand for steel driven by factors including urbanisation and industrial production, which is commonly used in the construction, machinery and automotive sectors. Over the next decade, steel consumption is expected to grow, which is expected to drive continued growth in steelmaking capacity and therefore metallurgical coal demand. With Australia ahead of the curve in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic and with the mining industry now the biggest contributor to the growth of the economy as a whole, it’s time to turn our focus onto the longevity of the industry, prepare for future challenges and take advantage of emerging opportunities. Click here to read the full article.  National Group supplies Liebherr R 9200 Excavator to Gold Mine in New South Wales 2020-09-15T23:23:17Z national-group-supplies-liebherr-r-9200-excavator-to-gold-mine-in-new-south-wales National Group, through National Plant & Equipment continues to be a key supplier of the latest heavy earthmoving equipment to the mining industry, including the Liebherr R 9200 Excavator to an open-cut gold mine in Western New South Wales. The Liebherr R 9200 Excavator offers the biggest payload in its class with the 12.5-cubic-metre bucket capacity, enabling sustainable performance and peak fuel burn efficiency in the most challenging conditions. Featuring Liebherr’s outstanding reliability and easy serviceability, this allows maximum uptime for mining operations, leading to more sustainable and cost-effective operations. Boasting the Cummins QSK38 engine, with a rating of 810kW at 1800 revolutions per minute, the powerful R 9200 is available powered by both diesel and electric motors. The R 9200 can also be fitted with backhoe and face shovel attachments, giving it a bucket capacity and shovel capacity of 12.50 cubic metres at 1.8 tonnes per cubic metres. So far, both the National Group and Liebherr have received positive feedback on the R 9200 from users, which are impressed by its operator friendly features. National Group managing director Mark Ackroyd said the arrival of the Liebherr R 9200 had further diversified the company’s already impressive fleet of equipment. “The feedback from site is that the Liebherr R 9200 has been very well received,” Ackroyd tells Australian Mining. “Our customers have been impressed with the performance of the Liebherr R 9200, it’s a very good machine and is competitive with other machines of a similar size and type.” In addition to the quality Liebherr features, National Group is known across Australia for its dry hire of heavy earthmoving equipment, helping mining companies improve their onsite efficiencies without putting undue stress on their operating budget. This is particularly relevant presently as the coronavirus pandemic has led to economic uncertainty around the globe, meaning some companies have had to be mindful of how much capital they allocate to certain projects. “National Plant & Equipment, part of the National Group specialises in the dry hire of heavy earthmoving equipment,” Ackroyd says. “We continue to be a key supplier of mining equipment to the industry and through our expansive fleet of heavy mining equipment, we can offer industry leading availability. “Renting equipment enables a company to increase their efficiency, and improve the productivity of their mining operations in reaction to fluctuating commodity prices. “Giving mining companies the option to rent versus buying equipment means they can remain agile and nimble, regardless of the environment we are in.” With gold prices reaching all-time highs of more than $US2000 ($2763) per ounce, iron ore prices soaring to almost $US110 per tonne and copper prices rebounding to highs of $US6362 per tonne as Chinese demand has recovered, the mining industry continues to be as strong as ever. “The price of metals such as iron ore and gold are soaring at the moment” Ackroyd explains. “We have developed strong strategic partnerships with clients who operate across both commodities and it has been great to see them experiencing exponential growth. Working alongside Liebherr, National Group selected the R 9200 excavator for site, applying the joint understanding of the mine, the work being completed there and previous success using Liebherr equipment. “Liebherr’s relationship with National, and understanding of the gold mine site requirements allowed us to put forward the appropriate sized excavator and tailored bucket size to suit both National’s and site’s requirements,” Liebherr-Australia major account manager Ben Kerr explains. “The addition of this R 9200 to National’s fleet further expands their range of mining equipment, building on the strong relationship and ease of doing business between the two companies.” National Plant & Equipment continues to be a key supplier of heavy earthmoving equipment to the mining industry, providing the industry with a reliable equipment solution, without overstretching its budget. Read MoreClick here to view more news from the National Group.Media ContactsContact us for more information on this story or to arrange an interview with Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director.Contact Lee Edmondson or Kain Ford, National Group Marketing Executives on marketing@national-group.co or 1300 096 618. Global trends in mining equipment and transport logistics 2020-08-24T00:00:21Z global-trends-in-mining-equipment-and-transport-logistics Mining equipment is one of the world’s largest industries valued in 2019 at US$144.37 billion. Research by Grand View predicts significant growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7% from 2020 to 2027 for surface mining equipment such as excavators, trucks and dozers. Grand View also identified a paradigm shift from traditional underground mining to open-pit mining, with advancements in technologies and autonomous equipment expected to play a larger role in the mining industry of the future. Hitachi Construction Machinery recently announced their intention to trial autonomous, heavy earthmoving hydraulic excavators in Australia. Trials are expected to commence in April 2021 according to a Hitachi spokesperson, with safety and increased mine site productivity being a key benefit. Hitachi excavators will be equipped with operator support systems such as a collision-avoidance system with other mining equipment in order to improve mine site safety. Wolff Mining, part of the National Group are well-known in the Australian mining industry for their implementation and optimisation of semi-autonomous tractor system (SATS) technology. In association with Caterpillar on their Cat Command for Dozing module, Wolff Mining’s technology is a world’s-first application into a mining production environment, providing the ability for one operator to control up to four dozers from a control room. Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director suggests that “the mining industry faces challenges, some that autonomous equipment will solve. Wolff Mining’s autonomous dozer push for instance continues to increase safety, productivity and mine site efficiency. It has also enabled mine sites to continue to operate whilst some operations elsewhere have ceased due to the current situation. Another key factor that will always have a significant impact on the mining industry as a whole is the value of commodities, which can impact mining companies all the way down to an operational level.” “If the value of a particular commodity is high, this is an attractive prospect for mining companies and will encourage them to increase their volume of mining for that particular resource, at that particular time. We have seen the price of iron ore skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which companies such as Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) have benefitted from. Gold is another stand out, which recently reached over US$2,000 per ounce. Mining companies such as Evolution Mining are well placed at the moment due to the high price of Gold. But due to the volatility of commodity prices and other known or unknown global factors, the future is not always certain.” “National Plant & Equipment, part of the National Group specialises in the dry hire of heavy mining equipment, a model that many companies are adopting versus buying their own equipment. Following a renting model can help mining companies free up capital expenditure, in order to keep something in reserve to pursue other more attractive ventures. Due to this fact, many mining companies are actually choosing to dispose of their mining equipment and rent instead.” “National Machinery Xchange, part of the National Group caters for the growing need for mining companies to dispose of mining equipment in order to raise capital and reduce costs through leasing versus buying equipment” notes Ackroyd. But with all this being said, whether you rent or buy mining equipment, there is another problem that requires a solution. How do you get some of the largest machines of the planet, from one side of the globe to the other, effectively and without incident, time after time? The Liebherr 9800 Excavator for instance can take up to 18 months to manufacture and can weigh an astonishing 800 tons. Equipment of this size is unable to be transported in one piece due to the sheer size and the nature of the logistics involved. It is therefore transported in parts and assembled on site at its final destination. Few understand the logistics involved in heavy haulage, with multi transport modes often required and global logistics management an integral part of the process. Haulage companies regularly have to liaise with government departments including local councils, with relationships, industry knowledge and extensive planning key to success. Police escorts and road closures are often required in order to move some of the largest loads to some of the most remote places and harshest climates in Australia, and indeed the world. “Forward planning is key to the successful delivery of heavy mining equipment” suggests Ian Scott, General Manager of National Heavy Haulage, part of the National Group. “Before we even think about transporting equipment, it is important that we survey the surrounding environment and transportation routes proposed before proceeding to the actual haul itself. All relevant parties must be kept informed, which includes the Department of Transport and State or Territory Police.” Alongside national heavy haulage, often comes international shipping. Overseas transport poses a whole host of other factors that need to be accounted for and often works hand in hand with domestics heavy haulage when it comes to international transportation. “International delivery very much operates in a chain structure” suggests Dean Sterling, General Manager of International Global Logistics, part of the National Group. “Each link in the chain of events relies heavily on the next, in order to ensure adherence to tight delivery schedules and more importantly, safety for all parties involved. Multi-transportation modes are common practice, with equipment often reaching the port by road, rail or sea before it continues its journey to its final destination.” “Like with national transport of heavy equipment, largo cargo for international transport must clear customs and satisfy security laws, with good relationships with the relevant authorities a must.” In summary, Mark Ackroyd explains that “mining is a complex industry where the stakes are high and the rewards great. It takes meticulous planning and flawless execution in order to succeed, with the logistics chain only as strong as its weakest link. The future of mining is both exciting and uncertain. The rise of autonomous mining equipment is promising; it will help improve safety and create efficiencies not seen previously. But past and present global events will forever remind us that the future is not always certain and that planning is key to the long term success of any operation.” National Group edges closer to fully autonomous drilling 2020-07-19T23:52:18Z national-group-edges-closer-to-fully-autonomous-drilling The National Group comprises of leading companies in the mining, resources, transport and logistics industries. Through Wolff Mining, the National Group has expanded its range of semi-autonomous equipment, with plans to implement fully autonomous drills in the near future. Wolff Mining, part of the National Group is well known for its range of automated and innovative solutions, such as large-scale satellite bulk dozer push and semi-autonomous blast hole drilling. The company has worked closely with Caterpillar in order to implement and optimise semi-autonomous tractor system (SATS) technology, in a world-first application into a mining production environment. The collaboration with Caterpillar on Cat Command for Dozing and optimisation of satellite technology for large-scale bulk dozer push operations has given a single operator the ability to control up to four dozers at one time, putting Australian mining companies one step closer to fully autonomous mining operations in the future. The development and implementation of fully autonomous drills is next on the horizon. National Group managing director Mark Ackroyd is excited for the future and plans to embrace this key technological advancement. “We are known for the dry hire of mining equipment and drills are no exception” Ackroyd tells Australian Mining. “With Wolff Mining’s drilling services, we are building a first-class business through low hour rigs, experienced operators and supervisors. “Like Wolff Mining’s work on Cat Command for Dozing, drill technology is currently being developed and optimised. “In the near future, we will have a range of Cat fully autonomous drills available to our clients. Acquiring a range of these fully autonomous drills is a future goal for the company, but for the moment, we are currently pleased with our work in the autonomous space.” National Group predominantly offers Caterpillar drills, with the OEM leading the way in innovation with its next plans being to release these fully autonomous drills to the market. At present, the Cat semi-autonomous drills allow operators to automate the drilling function itself, but manual input is still required to set the drill for the next hole after completing the drilling of the first. Although fully autonomous drilling is still in the future for the Australian market, National Group, with Wolff Mining, remains focussed on its current role of supplying the industry with heavy mining equipment, including blast hole drills and drilling services, to prepare drill holes for subsequent blasting. As is the case with the hire of heavy earthmoving equipment it supplies, National Group, through National Plant & Equipment offers dry hire of drill rigs, with Wolff Mining offering wet hire of drills, blast-hole drilling and contract mining services. “Like most of the heavy earthmoving equipment we supply, we intend to supply the highest quality new and used drills, along with superior service that exceeds market average drilled metres per rig at a competitive price,” Ackroyd says. Hastings Deering product manager – rotary blast hole drills Adam Davis says Caterpillar will release a range of fully autonomous drills with the ability for one operator to control up to three drills, much like the semi-autonomous tractor system technology works for dozers. “An operator will be able to perform non-line of sight operations from a control room, with the added ability for multi-pass operations,” Davis says. “Each of the three drills can also be set to unique drill patterns, enabling one operator to automate the drilling of multiple holes and patterns at the same time, all at the push of a button.” Fully autonomous drill technology has been in full development and has come a long way, with this technology to be available to mining companies in the near future.” Caterpillar drills available for hire through National Group include the Caterpillar 6420 B and C models, which have a mast range of up to 12 metres and the ability to drill holes from 229-310 millimetres, vertical depth of 74.6 metres and providing typical drill rig metres of around 25,000-30,000 metres per month. Another model available through National Plant & Equipment is the MD6420C, which can be boosted to a higher level of automation with Cat MineStar Terrain for remote, real-time monitoring of drilling activity and blast planning. Cat MineStar Terrain guides the operator through the job to improve their accuracy of drilling depth and hole placement, while providing feedback of the geology of the area being drilled. “We offer a key point of difference, namely low-hour drills, which have all been purchased new and maintained per original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements to achieve market-leading availability and utilisation,” Ackroyd says. “The National Group also has one of the lowest drill operator turnover rates in the Australian mining industry at less than 5 per cent, which is well below average.” The company consistently delivers monthly drilled metres, regularly exceeding its clients’ monthly targets, according to Ackroyd. National Group offers Caterpillar drills due to their long life and low total ownership costs, which gives the company’s clients easy maintenance and more uptime on the job, leading to safer and more comfortable drilling. Some of the advanced features of the Cat drills available for hire through National Group and Wolff Mining include improved fuel efficiency, electro-hydraulic controls for increased operator safety and computer-controlled drilling. Cat drills are also autonomous-ready, through integration with mine management systems, communication networks and safety systems. National Group provides drill hire and full-service contract drilling Australia-wide, largely in key Australian mining regions in the Pilbara in northern Western Australia and the Bowen Basin, Queensland. This includes a new contract to deliver a range of drills to one of National Group’s Tier 1 clients in Western Australia, with plans for further growth in the Australian and international drill market. “We operate Australia-wide, predominantly servicing clients based in the Bowen Basin and Pilbara (and) we plan to expand our presence nationally and internationally in the near future, with our expansive range of semi-autonomous and fully autonomous drills,” Ackroyd says. “In the future, we are looking to leverage Cat’s automation technology into the drill fleet, very similar to how Wolff Mining has applied the SATS technology to our dozers, with one operator controlling multiple drills.” Wolff Mining unveils their semi-autonomous tractor system (SATS) technology 2020-07-02T23:40:50Z wolff-mining-unveils-their-semi-autonomous-tractor-system-sats-technology Wolff Mining, part of the National Group is well-known for their worlds first implementation of semi-autonomous tractor system (SATS) technology into a mining production environment. Wolff Mining has been recognised for their efforts by winning multiple industry awards and for their work with Caterpillar optimising and implementing CAT Command for Dozing.Click here to view the latest video from Wolff Mining around their implementation of SATS. Benefits of SATSBenefits of Wolff Mining's SATS technology include: Safety: Operators protected from on-site dangers and environmental hazards Utilisation: Equipment utilisation and shift-long operator efficiency Application: Up or down hill tip head push and back stacking applications  Productivity: One operator controlling up to four dozers at a time Eliminate: Prolonged exposure to noise, dust and vibration Wolff Mining provides a range of automated and innovative solutions such as large scale satellite bulk dozer push, semi-autonomous blast hole drilling, contract mining services, excavator pre strip fleets, civil earthworks, site clearing and rehabilitation works.Further InformationClick here to view more news from the National Group.Click here for more information on Wolff Mining, part of the National Group.Media ContactsContact us for more information on this story or to arrange an interview with Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director.Contact Lee Edmondson or Kain Ford, National Group Marketing Executives on marketing@national-group.co or 1300 096 618. Mark Ackroyd weighs in on how COVID-19 has impacted the mining industry 2020-06-03T23:29:43Z mark-ackroyd-weighs-in-on-how-covid-19-has-impacted-the-mining-industry The mining industry will help lead the charge and stimulate the economy as we come out the other end of the coronavirus pandemic National Group Managing Director Mark Ackroyd has experienced the mining industry’s record-breaking highs and lows during the past two decades. Salomae Haselgrove speaks to Ackroyd about the impact the pandemic will have on the industry. Since founding National Plant & Equipment, part of the National Group in 1997, Mark Ackroyd has overcome the challenges of the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2015 commodity market downturn, two of the toughest periods in recent history the mining industry in Australia has faced. In 2020, the industry has been confronted by a new challenge in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen industries such as the hospitality, travel, tourism and entertainment close their doors. Only services classified as “essential” by the Australian Government have seen less impact during this crisis. Mining is classified as an “essential service” and has therefore been impacted far less than other industries that help keep the Australian economy strong. The mining industry although less affected than other industries, has quickly had to adapt to new ways of operating. With State Governments such as Queensland and Western Australia closing their borders, which are home to some of Australia’s key mining operations, this was bound to have an impact on the Australian Mining industry. Ackroyd remains positive about the position of the Australian mining industry during COVID-19. As Ackroyd explains, the coronavirus pandemic has solidified the importance of the mining industry to the Australian economy, as operations and supporting industries help to keep the nation afloat in a time of uncertainty. Click here to read more. NPE delivers Australia’s first rental Cat® 994K Wheel Loader to Rio Tinto’s Marandoo Mine in WA 2020-05-06T04:46:20Z npe-delivers-australia-s-first-rental-cat-994k-wheel-loader-to-rio-tinto-s-marandoo-mine-in-wa A pioneer in mining and metals, Rio Tinto was the first in Australia to secure the rental of the 994K, which has become the top customer choice in its size class for over 25 years. After arriving in Perth from the Caterpillar® manufacturing facility in Decatur Illinois, the wheel loader began pre-assembly on 17 February by WesTrac at its Reid Road facility. From there, the oversized load was disassembled for transportation from Perth to the Pilbara, where final assembly took place on site at Marandoo before being handed over to Rio Tinto to begin work in early May. Cat large wheel loaders are well known as the ‘top of their class’ due to their sheer size and durability that ensures maximum availability through multiple life cycles. The 994K doesn’t disappoint, with a net power of 1,297 kW, an operating weight of over 240 tonnes and a bucket capacity range of 19.1 - 24.5³ for hard rock conditions (up to 43.6 m³ for soft rock), making it the largest wheel loader currently manufactured by Caterpillar. “With optimised performance and simplified serviceability, the 994K allows mine sites to move more material efficiently and safely at a lower cost per tonne” notes Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director. “They are the ideal machine for large mining companies such as Rio Tinto to maximise their efficiency and productivity and reduce the level of ongoing maintenance required.” Geoff Bailey, WesTrac Executive General Manager of Sales commented on the company’s long-standing relationship with National Plant & Equipment and the machine’s impressive capability. “WesTrac have worked closely with NPE for more than seven years and we’re proud to continue to support the business with industry-leading equipment and technology. “The 994K can handle large payloads even in tough conditions, loading a matched Cat 789 or 793 haul truck in five to six passes respectively. It’s a highly efficient option for our WA mining customers.” As many businesses and industries come to a halt due to COVID-19, National Plant & Equipment has continued it’s ‘unstoppable’ ways, led by their CEO and Managing Director, Mark Ackroyd. “The 994K is Caterpillar’s latest and largest model of its kind and one of the biggest wheel loaders in the world. There is currently less than ten in Australia, so we are very excited to own a brand-new model and to see it go to work with one of our key clients. We are very confident it will meet and exceed any expectations”. National Plant & Equipment’s Business Development Manager for Western Australia, Craig Binstead, had nothing but praise for the highly sought-after machine. “We are thrilled to be the first rental company in Australia to own a Cat 994K wheel loader. Everybody in the mining industry knows how robust and durable these loaders are, so we are very happy to be adding one to our extensive fleet”. Things do not seem to be slowing down for the National Group either as they prepare to deliver a range of other machinery to mine sites around Australia in the coming months. Watch this space! Further InformationClick here to view more news from the National Group.Click here for more information on the National Group. Contact UsFor more information on this or any other news story, or to request a more detailed interview with the Managing Director of the National Group Mark Ackroyd, contact our Marketing Executive's Lee Edmondson or Kain Ford on marketing@national-group.co or 1300 096 618. National Group rolls out two new generation Cat D11 Dozers, including the worlds first 2020-03-02T00:35:32Z national-group-rolls-out-two-new-generation-cat-d11-dozers-including-the-worlds-first The National Group prides itself on offering Australian mining the best and most innovative machinery. The new Cat D11 dozer, the latest piece in this extensive range, is no exception. Salomae Haselgrove writes. The Cat D11 dozer is an exciting addition to the National Group’s fleet, featuring new technology such as load sensing hydraulics and a fuel remap, while maintaining the classic features customers know and love about this series of machine. Queensland-based Caterpillar dealer Hastings Deering, which has delivered the D11 to Australia alongside National Group, has described the dozers as “keeping everything customers liked about the previous model, but just making it better”. Caterpillar has designed the Cat D11 to move more material efficiently and safely at a faster cycle time to produce more dirt at a lower cost per tonne. The Cat D11 boasts new load-sensing flexible hydraulics and high horsepower reverse to deliver up to 8 per cent fuel efficiency improvement on past models. Its hydraulic pumps are adjustable, allowing operators to adjust the output to meet demand, which helps mine sites save energy, reduce heat generation and extend machine life. National Group has secured the world’s first model of the innovative new dozers straight off the production line and endorses the dozer’s smart new design. The company has wasted no time putting the Cat D11 dozer to work, with it hitting the dirt at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Blackwater mine in Queensland in December last year, and another deployed in January of this year. National Group is so impressed with the latest model of the dozer it has ordered four additional machines, which are set to arrive over the coming months. “Our team prides ourselves on having the best equipment available for our clients,” National Group Managing Director Mark Ackroyd says. “Securing the first ever Cat D11 dozer in the world is testament to this. The D11 is the industry’s best large dozer, so it was a logical choice for us to bring in six new dozers to our expansive fleet.” Ackroyd is also making the new dozers unique to the company, with all six of the machines to be fitted with a reclamation blade. This is also known as an XU blade, which extends the dozer from a 34-cubic-metre blade to a 42.2-cubic-metre blade for maximum reach. The reclamation blades are more productive than the U blade on previous models; they reduce cost per tonne, while still handling the harsh conditions of a mine site as its predecessor did. Left: Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director. Right: Jason Garea, Hastings Deering Mining Account Manager. The Cat D11 dozer has a new case and frame design, which improves its bearings. This, plus redesigned pin joints and a 30 per cent larger oil pan, lowers maintenance and repair costs, according to Mark Ackroyd. “We expect a lower maintenance and repair cost of up to 5 per cent thanks to the new case and frame design,” he says. Expanding on Cat’s existing safety features, the D11 boasts improved safety on previous models, with the engine oil sump capacity made 30 per cent larger, which extends the preventative maintenance intervals to 500 hours, giving operators less maintenance downtime. The electrical centre is based on ground-level, which provides convenient and safe access to the lockout control, engine shutdown switch and ladder raise and lower switches. For more efficient and safe maintenance, the Cat D11 dozer hosts an Auto Lube system, which means service technicians can change the coolant, hydraulic, engine and powertrain oil from ground level. There are also optional add on safety features, including sealed or partial bottom guards, undercarriage idler guards and grill door screens, further guaranteeing operator safety. Caterpillar has also taken advantage of advancing technology, incorporating automated blade assist into the D11 dozer, which increases efficiency while reducing the workload on operators. This is in addition to AutoCarry, which operators can activate to automatically change blade positions to keep track while pushing a load and avoid accidents caused by operator fatigue. There is also the option to add extras for comfort, such as air conditioning, heated and ventilated seats and window shades, for a comfortable day at work regardless of the outside conditions.     National Group’s Blackwater Project Manager Scott Millane says the dozers are already immensely popular within the sector, due to their improved design for safety purposes. “The other thing that makes them fight over these dozers is the increased torque. “If there’s an area that’s had some mud stone ripped up, the operators can put the rippers all the way down and the dozer just pulls through.” Hastings Deering mining account manager Jason Garea spoke about their relationship with National Group and how much it has grown from strength to strength over many projects. “We have had a long-standing relationship with National Group and being able to deliver another world first with the D11 is a demonstration of things to come,” Garea says. “Mark is committed to innovation and technology. The D11 Dozer has integrated technologies built into it, including terrain which makes for more accuracy on job sites which will ultimately reduce rework.” The partnership will continue to monitor how the D11s perform in Australia as the remainder of the six machines are rolled across mine sites this year. Mark Ackroyd weighs in on an ever-changing mining industry 2019-12-03T05:16:51Z mark-ackroyd-weighs-in-on-an-ever-changing-mining-industry Salomae Haselgrove, Editor for Australian Mining Magazine writes. Mark Ackroyd has observed significant change in the mining industry and equipment sectors during the past two decades since founding National Plant & Equipment, part of the National Group, in 1997. Starting with a single bulldozer, Ackroyd has consistently grown his operations, diversifying and building complementary entities and verticals to establish a business empire. He has become a key industry player, with the National Group now one of Australia’s most well-known heavy earthmoving equipment businesses, renting equipment to Tier 1 mining companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Fortescue Metals Group. During his career, Ackroyd has experienced record-breaking industry highs and economic downturns, in which only the adept have survived. Ackroyd has overcome various challenges and managed to experience organic growth even during downturns. He has become highly regarded for being on the pulse of industry trends and foreseeing emerging market opportunities. When asked how he has climbed the ladder from a sole operator, to a privately-owned business competing against large industry players, Ackroyd explains his ability to pick market trends, to adapt to industry forces and to never give up regardless of the challenges faced have ensured ongoing success and longevity. Since the economic downturn of earlier this decade, Ackroyd has seen the market move from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) producing large volumes of equipment to many OEMs  significantly reducing production. Now the market is experiencing significant growth, largely due to the rise of resource prices, a weaker Australian dollar with a record low cash rate and an increase in demand from China. OEMs have responded by ramping up production, but with large heavy earthmoving equipment taking as long as 18 months to produce, Tier 1 miners looking to increase production in line with the rise of resource prices and demand are finding it hard to keep up. According to the September 2019 Resources and Energy Quarterly report, Australian resource exports appear likely to hold up in 2019–20, even in the face of volatile commodity markets. The global economy is forecast to grow by 3.2 per cent in 2019 and by 3.5 per cent in 2020 and 2021, creating various opportunities. Higher export volumes and a lower than expected Australian dollar are likely to see Australia’s resource and energy export earnings set a new record of $282 billion in 2019–20. The depreciation of the Australian dollar will help counter the impact of escalating US-China trade tensions, with Australia benefitting from an investor flight to safety. But trade tensions between the US and China represent one of the largest risks to this outlook. To put it into perspective, Australia is the second largest exporter of thermal coal in the world, with 208 million tonnes (worth $26 billion) exported last year. About 20 per cent went to China, illustrating the importance of the country’s mineral and resource exports. National Group’s equipment largely services coal and iron ore. Australia’s iron ore export earnings are expected to reach $81 billion in 2019–20, driven by higher prices. Australia’s metallurgical coal export volumes are forecast to grow from 183 million tonnes in 2018–19 to 198 million tonnes by 2020–21, reflecting production growth from restarts and new capacity in the Bowen Basin, a key mining region in which the National Group has a large presence. Australia’s thermal coal export earnings reached a record $26 billion in 2018–19. Strong growth in export earnings has primarily been driven by high prices in 2018 and a high contract price settled for 2019–20. Although Australia is largely impacted by Chinese demand, the global political climate could also create opportunities. For instance, possible implications of ‘Brexit’ for Australia’s trade with the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU). The UK’s decision to leave the EU (known as Brexit) has presented great uncertainty and unique challenges. However, Australia should be encouraged that the UK has signalled it is willing to enter into new trade partnerships following its departure from the EU, with Australia well positioned to redefine and expand Anglo-Australian trade and investment relationships. Although the global economy largely impacts the mining industry as a whole, there are factors under our control, such as productivity, that are increasingly important. Looking ahead, Ackroyd anticipates that companies will make changes to keep up with the ever-evolving industry, from their response to global markets, the equipment and technology they introduce, and how their decisions impact productivity and therefore profitability. “It’s not only the equipment that is changing, but also the way in which companies are acquiring it,” Ackroyd explains. More companies are looking towards long-term hire or rent-to-buy options rather than purchasing machines, a trend Ackroyd notes has grown in the past few years. “The cost of heavy earthmoving equipment is extremely high and therefore requires a significant amount of capital expenditure,” Ackroyd says. “The volatility of the mining industry and the constant shifting resource prices can pose significant risks for mining companies. “Therefore, hiring mining equipment can reduce exposure to industry forces and help mitigate these risks for them.” In addition to cutting costs, renting equipment also gives companies more flexibility to keep up with the industry as it grows and changes. “Hiring equipment can enable a company to re-allocate available resources and more easily react to market trends as they occur,” Ackroyd says. “Having more liquidity enables a company to invest in other areas of their business that can realise further opportunities and therefore increase their bottom line.” Ackroyd has witnessed this firsthand, with National Group’s renting arm, National Plant & Equipment, expanding its fleet to over 300 machines, including excavators, dump trucks, dozers, graders, loaders, compactors, water trucks, service trucks and floats. Technology and how it will impact the industry and those who work in it, is another major talking point surrounding mining and equipment that Ackroyd monitors. Despite technology’s ability to create a safer, more efficient and more sustainable mining environment, some workers remain apprehensive about what an automated future will look like. Innovative practices are helping shape the future of the mining industry and will be a key driver towards a sustainable future. Automation is gaining ground and will have a large impact on mining companies, their equipment and their employees. However, Ackroyd believes miners shouldn’t worry about their jobs, but instead be prepared to evolve their skillset along with the industry as it continues to change. Ackroyd has watched this play out at Wolff Mining, a company that became part of the National Group this year. Wolff continues to transition workers from machine cabins by up-skilling them so they can instead work from a control room. “As automation increases, this will have an impact on mine site staff,” Ackroyd says. “Wolff for instance, enables one operator to control up to four dozers from a control room. “However, this does not mean the other three workers are now out of a job; their roles will simply change shape. “Automation will open up new opportunities for workers to up-skill into new areas of the industry, whilst giving them greater safety going forward.” Semi-autonomous, or driverless dozers are a big win for safety, allowing workers to operate from a safe and remote location. Wolff’s work in optimising semi-autonomous tractor system technology is a world-first application into a mining production environment. Ackroyd sees the application of this technology becoming more widespread throughout the industry in the future. With technological change in mining inevitable, Ackroyd tips drones and remote control operations to be the next big innovation to watch. “In the future, there will be a need for more remote control operators and safety staff to oversee fully automated operations,” Ackroyd says. “Automated technology will become more standard on new equipment that will further enable mining companies to utilise this technology to increase productivity, efficiency and safety.” To view more news articles from the National Group go to www.national-group.co/news.  Contact Us For more information on this or any other news story, or to request a more detailed interview with the Managing Director of the National Group Mark Ackroyd, contact our Marketing Executive's Lee Edmondson or Kain Ford on marketing@national-group.co or 1300 096 618. A battle of the beasts 2019-10-01T00:28:20Z a-battle-of-the-beasts Have you ever seen a dump truck race a Supercar? If not, don’t worry, because for the first time ever, along with our partners Mobil 1 Racing, we have been able to make an event of this magnitude a reality. Click here to view the video on YouTube. Following a trip to Queensland’s mining hot spot; the Bowen Basin earlier this year, professional race car driver James Courtney proposed a tantalising challenge to his Mobil 1 MEGA Racing teammate Scott Pye. It is a suggestion so out of left field that nothing quite like it has been replicated around the world: the proposition of a Supercar facing off against one of National Group’s Caterpillar 777F Dump Trucks. The challenge initially surprised National Group managing director Mark Ackroyd, whose somewhat disbelief soon turned to sheer excitement. “Mining equipment is definitely not seen racing around a track very often, they are usually busy moving tonnes of dirt from point A to point B,” Ackroyd commented pre-race. National Group’s MD, like many others, was enthralled by the prospect of two dominant vehicles in their respective industries facing off in the pure terrain of his National Group owned Quarry in Nebo Queensland. “It will be an interesting matchup as our dump trucks are more well-known for their large engine capacity, sheer size and brute force, race cars on the other hand are more about speed and agility, so we’ve put a few obstacles in the way to even the score,” Ackroyd continues. “Let’s see if the king of the mines can out muscle the king of the racetracks, I’ll even start the race myself.” It set the stage for a battle of the beasts, with absolutely no denying of the competitive nature of Courtney and Pye. As Courtney hid the keys in his palm, Pye was challenged to choose a hand in order to decide which driver will operate each respective vehicle. In this moment, Courtney sent a cheeky jab at his opponent Pye, “I’ll let you choose Scotty. I’m fairly confident I have got this either way.” The result saw Courtney enter the starters line in the familiar surroundings of his Mobil 1 MEGA Racing car, while Pye rolled up in the colossal dump truck. “This is not something you get to do every day. We drive for a living, but I’m sure this will be a totally different experience. We’re both looking forward to the challenge,” Pye said, with a hint of nerves. The race course was set in a way so each vehicle could capitalise on their respective strengths – the Supercar must weave through obstacles to highlight its agility, while the sheer brute power of the dump trucks will be showcased as it streams forward in a straight line. As the vehicles waited to start the race, Pye exclaimed: “this thing is huge… I’m about 20 feet off the ground.” Mark Ackroyd started the race and as the supercar hit its first obstacle, the dump truck began to pick up momentum leading into the finish line. While Pye took the initial bragging rights, the challenge wasn’t quite over. “Let me have a go mate, I’m curious to see myself how these big mining trucks handle,” Courtney says. After switching vehicles and enjoying the power offered by National Group’s dump trucks, the two drivers had some time to reflect on the once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Growing up, almost every little boy imagines themselves driving around big trucks. Thanks to the National Group, James and I got to be young kids again for the day! We had a ball,” Pye said. Equally excited, Courtney shared his experience with Australian Mining, “the whole day was awesome! When you’re involved in motorsports, you love anything with an engine, no matter the shape or size.” For the National Group, the race highlights an opportunity for the mining and racing communities to come together and celebrate the relationship that exists with Mobil 1 MEGA Racing. “Today was a great opportunity to showcase our partnership with the Mobil 1 MEGA Racing and most of all have some fun combining our industries’ machines together for a never before seen event,” Ackroyd said. As Courtney and Pye head back to the busy schedule of the professional race car tour and National Group staff work on their next fleet of mining vehicles, this race will undoubtably be etched in the memory of both drivers for a while to come. A mine site visit for the ages 2019-09-03T23:41:08Z a-mine-site-visit-for-the-ages Supercars are usually seen zipping around race tracks across the globe at speeds of up to 300 kilometres an hour, a sight that provides spectators and drivers alike with an incomparable adrenaline rush. It is very rare, however, to see these vehicles at a mine site. Click here to watch the video on YouTube. Recently, National Group and its partner, Mobil 1 Mega Race team, brought these pulsating race cars to the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Peak Downs coal operation in Queensland. It was an opportunity for National Group to highlight a longstanding relationship with BMA that has moved from strength to strength, at the mining giant’s Bowen Basin operations. Holding the site visit at Peak Downs was particularly fitting given the growing presence National Group has at the mine, delivering the first of a series of excavators to the site earlier this year. It follows the delivery of five Liebherr ultra-class T 282C trucks in September last year, building on what is becoming a powerful relationship between the two, now reinforced by the race car showcase. National Group’s founder and managing director Mark Ackroyd was onsite for the showcase. He told Australian Mining that it provided a thrilling experience for both operators and race car drivers. “The atmosphere was exciting for the operators, the race cars and their drivers pulled up and there was some disbelief they were on site,” Ackroyd says. “There were photographs, autographs and everything, it was something they haven’t seen before. Even the race car drivers were amazed at some of the mining equipment too.” “We’ve been working with BHP for some years now, we took the supercars on site where we could engage with our customers and show the appreciation we have for them,” Ackroyd says. National Group’s clients have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at supercar race events around the country, where they experience firsthand the exhilarating buzz of race car driving. As Ackroyd says, it’s a show of appreciation for customers, which remain loyal to the company. “Anyone can go to the races, the tours we provide customers with, provides in-depth pit tours,” he says. “Rather than sitting in the crowd with cars speeding around so quickly you can barely see them; our customers are able to get close up to the vehicles and drivers.” Indeed, the recent trip to Peak Downs exemplifies the company’s focus on its customers, with Mobil 1 Mega race team drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye making an appearance at the site. The meet and greet session and autographs that ensued left many site operators star struck as the two posed for photos next to the colossal mining equipment National Group has supplied to BMA at Peak Downs. While operating across different industries, it is easy to draw comparisons between the National Group and racing teams, as described by co-team principal Bruce Stewart. “The National Group and the Mobil 1 Mega race team are similar in a number of ways. We both deal with machinery at the cutting edge of technology and understand the importance of every team member coming together to achieve sustained success,” Stewart says. While differing in purpose, Pye and Courtney were still able to recognise the sheer magnitude of some of National Group’s mining equipment in comparison to the nippy race cars. “Being down in the pit looking at our car next to the T282 dump trucks, it makes it look like a matchbox car in comparison,” Pye says. His counterpart Courtney was equally in awe, “before coming up to the Bowen Basin, we got told the National Group’s machines were big, but you don’t realise just how massive they are until you get here and see them in person. They are monsters!”