The Byrnecut story
Byrnecut has been in the underground mining business for over 30 years.
Commencing in 1987, Byrnecut was a new enterprise for Steve Coughlan (current Executive Chairman), Frank Lubbock, Clive Annear and John O’Byrne. While the stock market crash of October 1987 resulted in a challenging environment for a new mining contractor, we were able to stay above water by winning our first contract, the Westralia decline at Bellevue (WA) for Queen Margaret Gold Mines.
To address financial pressure from all directions, a new partner was sought and found in Thyssen Mining Construction of Australia. This strong association continues today. With the new partnership established, we were able to commence work at the Callion Gold Mine (WA) and Redeemer Gold Mine (WA).
Building on our growing reputation throughout Western Australia, we were awarded underground contracts at Ora Banda Gold Mine (WA) and at Mariners and Wannaway Nickel Mines (WA).
After gaining years of experience in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, our first significant interstate contract was won at Dead Bullock Soak in the Tanami (NT) for Normandy. This was our first fly-in, fly-out site, now the standard across our domestic sites.
We were successful with a number of tenders in Western Australia and were subsequently awarded underground contracts at Victory, Chalice and Brittania Sirius gold mines, together with the Carnilya Hill, Lanfranchi and Blair nickel mines.
Success continued with the awarding of Western Australian underground contracts at Miitel Nickel Mine and Pillara Lead/Zinc Mine.
A busy year for new underground contracts: we took on projects at the Crusader, Darlot and Bounty Gold Mines (WA).
Bulyanhulu Gold mine, Tanzania
Our first major international contract was won in Tanzania to develop a decline at Bulyanhulu gold mine for Barrick. Here, we learned much about logistics, language barriers and operating in a remote overseas region. We were also successful in winning the contract at Pajingo Gold Mine (QLD) and took over the Mt Magnet gold operations at Hill 50 and Morning Star (WA).
Our growing our presence on the international stage, combined with our excellent reputation, helped us to continue to grow our overseas business. In 2000, we won the contract for the development at Tara Zinc Mine in Ireland for Outokumpu, against strong international competition.
Cosmos Nickel mines, WA, Australia
We were awarded underground contracts at the Mt Marion, Jundee Gold and Cosmos Nickel Mines (WA). The contract at Jundee continues to this day, showing how the flexibility and adaptability of our approach to underground mining leads to long-standing relationships with major mining companies.
Forming a joint venture with global partners Thyssen Mining & Construction of Canada and RUC Mining, we were awarded the contract to sink the Telfer hoist shaft.
As Byrnecut continued its overseas expansion, its Australian division was awarded the underground contract at Nifty Copper Mine (WA) and Tritton Copper Mine (NSW).
The Global Financial Crisis hit and everyone had to take a deep breath, tighten their belts and ride out the storm. We fared better than many of our competitors by holding our course, keeping to our core business ethics and adapting to the new financial landscape. At this turbulent time we were awarded underground contracts at Golden Grove (WA) and Ballarat gold mine (VIC). We also commenced the shaft sinking project at Perseverance Deeps Shaft 2 (WA) with our joint venture partner Thyssen Mining & Construction of Canada.
Byrnecut worked consistently and steadily across Australian and overseas projects. We were awarded an underground contract at Mariners Nickel Mine (WA).
Ernest Henry Copper Mine, QLD, Australia (Shaft Sinking)
With a number of successful tenders across Australia, we mobilised at Merlin Molybdenum mine (QLD), Sinclair Nickel, Miitel Nickel, Athena and King of the Hills Gold mines (WA) and Prominent Hill Copper mine (SA). We were awarded our first major shaft sink as a sole contractor at the Ernest Henry Copper Mine (QLD).
Clients of our contracting core business would often ask if Byrnecut could offer mine site infrastructure, such as workshops or offices. These continuing requests resulted in the formation of Quattro Project Engineering. Quattro offers engineering design, project management, engineering certification and other engineering consultancy services, including paste-fill design.
Sano Health health, safety and training workshop
Byrnecut is widely acknowledged as having robust systems in place for occupational health, safety and training. Increasing enquiries from external parties to purchase them led to the formation of a new company, Sano Health, that could access these systems under licence. Sano Health has taken its cues from the world of elite sport, using scientific analysis to look at workplace injury prevention in a new way. Another facet of its scope of works is conducting independent mine safety audits. Sano’s growing client list encompasses a wide range of industries nationwide. Also in 2012, Byrnecut was awarded the underground contract at Gwalia Gold Mine (WA).
With the business continuing to evolve and grow to meet the needs of the changing environment in the mining sector, we were awarded the underground contracts at the Cave Rocks (WA) and Challenger (SA) gold mines.
The international division returned to the place where it all began, as Byrnecut were awarded contracts at Bulyanhulu and North Mara in Tanzania. Many of the workforce employed were operators from our original time in the country almost 15 years prior.
The world-record for solo-jumbo development team at Jundee
The Byrnecut team at Jundee set a new world record for solo-jumbo monthly development. The team achieved an astonishing 754.3 metres (2,849 feet) in one month, breaking the record set in 2013 at Dugald River in Queensland. The record-breaking team bolted and meshed all 754.3m of development, and there were no safety incidents. ‘The key to success was preparation, planning, scheduling, optimisation, management and letting the team execute.’
We thrive on our ability to adapt and spot a new opportunity. 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, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.