Byrnecut stays focussed on progress


Many mining service companies have been forced to focus on debt restructuring, major business overhauls and a scramble for work at any price over the past few years. Unencumbered, Byrnecut Group’s goals have stayed the same during a long period of significant expansion.

Byrnecut stays focussed on progress Byrnecut stays focussed on progress Byrnecut stays focussed on progress Byrnecut stays focussed on progress Byrnecut stays focussed on progress

Staff Reporter

The diversified underground contract mining leader has worked ever more closely with key clients in Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South East Asia, and Europe on sustainable business improvement outcomes.

Safer projects, and mines. Rapid mine development, quick ramp-ups and world-class operational productivity levels. Innovative mine design, and significant technology development and application. Successful training of local people, and transfer of international best-practice skills and performance. Collaboration on vital supply chain and capital management initiatives.

Byrnecut executive chairman Steve Coughlan says the group’s unhindered capacity to invest in important growth initiatives, state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and recruitment and development of the very best people, has underpinned its success during a period in which mining industry fortunes have swung wildly.

It’s nothing he and the company formed back in 1987, in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, haven’t seen before. But Coughlan says booms and busts have repeatedly tested suppliers, service companies, miners and their backers. Staying financially strong, forging strategic partnerships, and being innovative, create excellent foundations for delivering competitive services.

Byrnecut’s underground contract mining business continues to grow. Last year it completed 94km of large-scale trackless mine development and delivered more than 13 million tonnes of ore to clients.

“The formula is straight forward,” Coughlan says. “Put the right people on the ground, provide the background support, be consistent with the application of systems and procedures, and deliver quality right from the start.

“The rest will follow.

“Focusing on what is best for the project with like-minded clients means the probability of success is very high.”

Byrnecut Group – At a glance


Corporate Office: Level 1 Bravo Building, 1 George Wiencke Drive, Perth Airport, Western Australia 6105
Tel: +61 8 9270 1000. Fax: +61 8 9270 1001
Development: Developed 94km of underground tunnels in 2015 (50km in 2014). The group operates an extensive, modern fleet of mechanised equipment.
Production: 13 million tonnes of ore delivered. Extensive, modern equipment fleet.
Innovation: Byrnecut is at the forefront of remote control and automation in underground production, having introduced automated loading systems to numerous operating mines. Ongoing R&D investment in trucking technology and alternative mining development /production systems.
Employees: More than 3000 (group total), including c900 nationals in various countries outside Australia.
Group annual turnover: cAU$900 million
Order book: c$3 billion as at end of 2015
Current group contracts in: Australia, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Mali, DRC, Ghana, Canada, USA, New Zealand
Current group clients: Acacia Mining, Randgold Resources, AngloGold Ashanti, Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin, Barrick Gold, Newcrest Mining, OZ Minerals, Sandfire Resources, Gold Fields, Northern Star Resources, St Barbara, Glencore, MMG, Perilya
Owned by: Thyssen Group/Australian management

The Australian ingredients in the formula that is working well in Africa, Kazakhstan, Rep. of Ireland, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Canada have been refined over nearly three decades. They are, according to Coughlan, “consistency based on proven systems developed over many years in the areas of occupational health and safety and training, maintenance and project management; generations of experience in mechanised mine development and production; and personnel throughout the workforce who have been within the group for 10 years or more who inherently understand how we operate”.


Coughlan says the group has “taken its cues from the changing requirements of the industry to offer specialised and tailored solutions to clients”.

“The group suite of businesses provides cradle to grave solutions and services for large-scale mechanised mining projects,” he says.

Starting with its 2005 investment in a raise boring fleet and creation of Raising Australia to do raise drilling work in Australia and abroad, Byrnecut has helped build a number of complementary, successful businesses that have grown as strong, independent entities in their own right. These include:

- Mining Plus. Conceived as a way of retaining the expertise of graduate engineers, and started with two consultants, Mining Plus has expanded into a fully integrated global mining consultancy providing services covering the conceptual stage of projects, right through to feasibility study work, project delivery, commissioning, and mine closure.

- Quattro Project Engineering provides EPC turnkey surface infrastructure and mining related project solutions, and has developed specialist capability in the provision of customised underground paste backfill systems, including reticulation and installation. Quattro has developed an industry leading paste diversion valve (QDV) specifically for these applications.

- Byrnecut is widely acknowledged to have robust OH&S systems. Sano Health, which accesses systems under licence and applies elite-sport scientific analysis to assess workplace injury prevention in a new way, is conducting an increasing number of independent mine safety audits for a growing list of clients.

- Murray Engineering was to set up 10 years ago as an independent mechanical maintenance and electrical services provider and its influenced has continued to spread. The business went against trend in the engineering sector with its growth in 2015. Byrnecut recently successfully introduced remote controlled autotram technology at the Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, working through Murray.

Jetcrete, the largest specialised shotcrete contractor in Australia, is another core business within the group. It has been providing essential concrete spraying services to many major mine sites over more than 35 years of operation, and today owns and operates an extensive fleet of specialised equipment. Internationally Jetcrete North America, a 50/50 joint venture with Thyssen Mining Construction Canada, continues to expand as the brand reputation develops in Canada and the USA.

“We thrive on our ability to adapt and spot a new opportunity,” Coughlan says.

“By encouraging innovation from our suppliers, and identifying key areas where we can expand or improve, we continue to provide a competitive range of services to our clients backed by extensive experience. We also invest substantially in internal R&D.

“That’s where our focus will stay.”

Byrnecut continues to tender significant projects in Australia and internationally. The company recently won the mine development contract at the Kamoa copper project in the DRC, where it has been working with operator Randgold at Kibali for more than three years under a long-term contract. It is preferred contractor for Resolute’s Syama gold project in Mali.

Byrnecut is also working in Tanzania and Ghana.


Emblematic of its reputation and ability to deliver value through mining cycles is Byrnecut’s presence at the Jundee gold mine in Western Australia. The high-grade mine has been a consistent performer for different operators over two decades. Byrnecut started work there in 2001 and recently won a new contract to take its tenure out to 2018.

“We have fared better than many of our competitors in this current global industry downturn, and others previously, by holding our course, keeping to our core business ethics and adapting to the new financial landscape,” Coughlan says.

“You’ve really got to have a strong core in this business. We’re in a negative net debt position financially, we continue to invest in the business including R&D, and continue to look for new growth opportunities around the world.

“Our relationships with key clients, and our capacity to work with them for mutual gain, have never been better.”