With a strong presence in Western Australia and Queensland, 2022 saw National Group expand its presence in New South Wales, including a new contract with Moolarben Coal.
National Group has enjoyed a hugely successful 2022, celebrating its 25th anniversary and further evolving an already renowned mining services company into new activities and new regions of Australia.
“National Group’s gone from strength to strength in 2022, with new contracts beginning such as our contract with Anglo American,” National Group managing director and chief executive officer Mark Ackroyd told Australian Mining.
That new contract commenced in February and involves the supply of heavy earthmoving equipment to Anglo American Australia’s open-cut coal mines at its Capcoal operation in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
Having supplied the Capcoal operation for three years, the latest contract doubled the amount of equipment National Group delivers to the Lake Lindsay and Oak Park mines.
Up to 30 National Group maintenance staff members have worked on new and existing contracts at Capcoal, operating in six-person crews. The team has been led by National Group maintenance superintendent Damien Melville, who has more than 25 years’ experience in mining.
National Group has also boosted its New South Wales presence, with a new three-year contract with Yancoal subsidiary Moolarben Coal awarded in 2022.
The company’s contract-mining arm – National Mining Services – is providing works including the safe pre-stripping of up to 15 million bank cubic metres of overburden each year at the Moolarben coal mine.
National Mining Services has used National Group’s ultra-class mining equipment on the contract, including Liebherr R9800 excavators, Liebherr T282 dump trucks and other ancillary equipment.
The Moolarben contract came after National Group was awarded a surface mining contract at ’s Cadia gold mine in central NSW in 2021. This involved the supply of equipment such as Caterpillar 994K and 988K large wheel loaders, Caterpillar 793 dump trucks, and the Hitachi ZX890 excavator.
Up to 40 National Group employees are maintaining the equipment at Cadia.
Ackroyd said his company’s work at Cadia continues to grow, with the contract being led by maintenance superintendent and Cadia expert Murray Grimes.
Grimes – who has known Ackroyd for many years and completed his apprenticeship in the Cadia East underground mine, which is one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world – returned to National Group to work on the Cadia contract.
The recent commodity boom has bolstered National Group’s order book, with miners looking to boost their production to take advantage of the conditions. Ackroyd said this has resulted in greater demand for the business’ services.
“For miners to increase their output, it requires more people, more equipment and better performance to do so, which rolls back into companies like us at National Group that have more opportunities to supply the necessary equipment,” he said.
“For anyone in this space at the moment, the market is very buoyant and very busy. Whether it’s labour, equipment or maintenance supply, no matter what it is, the whole industry is very active.”
While National Group is one of the biggest, most distinguished mining services companies in Australia – if not the globe – its employees are not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
As National Group head of marketing and partnerships Kain Ford puts it, “everyone knows Mark, is part of the team, and is treated equally”.
A 100 per cent privately-owned outfit, National Group has big company experience but a family-owned feel that focuses on the customer.
“For National Group, it’s always been our understanding of customers’ needs and being responsive,” Ackroyd told Australian Mining earlier this year.
“We’ve worked hard to find the right balance between systems that help control and minimise risk, while maintaining the entrepreneurial dynamism of a private company.”
Diversification is a key focus, not just in business, commodity and location, but also in personnel.
This forms part of National Group’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy.
“We aim to drive sustainability throughout our organisation, which to us means reducing our impact on our environment, ensuring our people and communities are supported, and that our governance decisions align to our sustainability goals,” Ackroyd said.
“We believe we can contribute to improving the sustainability of Australia’ sector, an industry that will remain critical in facilitating the renewable transition globally while providing safe and gainful employment for local communities for decades to come.”
National Group recognises there is more to do to improve the mining sector’s ESG performance in line with internal, customer and societal expectations. But through the company’s diversification focus and accessible environment, it’s quickly becoming one of the most passionate ESG proponents in the Australian mining sector.
When Australian Mining spoke with Ackroyd about National Group’s 25th anniversary earlier in the year, he reflected on the growth of staff; the teamwork, camaraderie and organisation culture; and the long-term client relationships that have been forged over the years.
As one of Australia’s top 300 privately-owned companies in terms of revenue, National Group is an entrepreneurial success story.
But you won’t hear Ackroyd talking about his personal achievements. He is especially proud of National Group’s expanding focus on corporate social responsibility. Helping the local footy club in a mining town, for example, is about the company supporting communities in which its people live.
For Ackroyd, business is simple. It starts with having good people who understand what clients want, and who will work harder, smarter and faster to deliver it. He wants people of high integrity who are there for the long haul, and who are genuinely customer-centric.
With a simplified corporate structure that has a direct line of contact and no middle management, National Group has the agility to match miners’ dynamic, ever-evolving schedules. This enables swift decisions and the ability to quickly respond to clients’ urgent needs.
Going into 2023, National Group will continue to increase its presence in the Australian mining industry, finding new opportunities, new regions and new commodities to explore.
The company has a particular focus on boosting its already-strong order book of Tier 1 miners and expanding its fleet in preference of larger machines.
As the world further realises its green future, mining services companies such as National Group, which have the flexibility, reach and reputation to quickly capitalise on new opportunities and apply expertise in new ways, will become increasingly critical.
“Our job is to supply the most energy-efficient equipment,” Ackroyd said. “We’ve done that for a long time because we buy the latest equipment from the top manufacturers. Having a young, state-of-the-art fleet is better for the environment.”
Whatever the future holds, there is one area in which National Group will always maintain its focus.
“I want National Group to remain a highly customer-focused company, from the most junior employee to my job and the board,” Ackroyd said. “I want everybody to stay on the same page about the need to always put customers first.”
This feature appeared in the December issue of Australian Mining.
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