A Northland agricultural lime and fertiliser company uses a fleet of mobile crushers and screens to complement its core business.
Avoca Lime general manager Keith Squires says the company has several good, long-term customers that they continue to do mobile crushing contract work for.
Avoca has acquired three Metso Lokotrack LT1213 crushers over the last eight years. Two are fitted with screens and recirculating belts and the other is a crusher with an extended discharge belt.
It also purchased a Metso Lokotrack ST2.4 mobile scalping screen last year.
“We picked up a contract with Winstone Aggregates and we screened about 85,000 tonnes for its first job,” Squires says.
“We had an older screen that we were using initially but it was struggling to keep up with the required daily volumes."
“To make it work out for everyone we needed to upgrade the gear, so we went to the Metso scalping plant and a larger loader and it worked out well.”
Initially, the LT1213 crushers were purchased to use in the company’s quarries.
“We identified, for what we do, there was a heap of spare capacity there. So, we’re just picking up a little bit more work.”
The mobile crushing contract work accounts for about 10-15 per cent of the company’s activity, Squires says.
Reaping the rewards
Avoca has upgraded equipment at a number of its sites around Northland, including a new Caterpillar 938K loader for the fertiliser depot and quarry at Rarewa near Whangarei, and a Metso LT1213 crusher to replace an old crusher at its Port Albert operation near Wellsford.
Squires says the company has spent “quite a chunk of money” over the last few years upgrading mobile gear. This has included three new Kobelco SK260 excavators. He says the investment is paying off with better utilisation and reduced operating costs.
“You’ve got to have that good gear to stay reliable, buy new and buy good quality. Which is why we’ve gone to the Metso and the Kobelco machines, it also keeps it simple having generic gear across the business.”
Riding out the storm
Squires says a problem the farming industry and associated businesses face each year is dealing with the wet weather and the income volatility Avoca's farming customers endure.
“We’ve had a couple of leaner years with the low dairy pay-out. It directly affects the fertiliser and lime sales which make up about 70 per cent of turnover,” Squires says.
Diversifying into the mobile crushing field has helped the company get through the peaks and troughs that come with the dairy sector.
“Now with the pay-out coming back up, and the crushers being busy, things are going pretty well.”
This article was first published on Inside Resources, New Zealand's online news and information service for the mining and quarrying sectors including a comprehensive industry participant, and, mine, quarry and permit database. The subscription-based website provides executive interviews, news, opinions and commentary on a daily basis. It informs readers and assists high-level decision making around trends, projects and regulations influencing the minerals, aggregates, metals and coal industries. A daily e-newsletter is sent directly to your inbox.