Industry Farewell - Warren Mahoney
After 37 years in the civil and mining industries, our colleague and good friend, Warren Mahoney has retired. Warren began his career with Master Builders Solutions as a Technical Sales Representative in Newcastle. Warren played a critical role starting our underground construction team back in the early 90’s and has proudly represented us in that field since that time, having a huge impact on our local and global operations.
We sat down with Warren to discuss the his experiences both with Master Builders Solutions & the broader industry. He also gives some advice for up-and-comers working in the civil and mining industry.
How long have you been in the industry? And How did you know it was the right industry for you?
I have been in the civil and mining industry with this company for 37½ yrs. I didn’t know it was the right industry when I first joined but was attracted to the challenge of being the first person dedicated to looking after the company’s activities in northern NSW, including setting up an office and warehousing in Newcastle. From there I developed the passion for the industry.
What was your first job?
My first job was with Sydney County Council where I did an Electrical Apprenticeship and then an Electrical Engineering Certificate – Physics & Maths 12 months completed and then completed an Electronics Course in Radio & TV.
Which companies have you worked for over the years?
- Sydney County Council (specialised in high voltage)
- Rheem (commercial division)
- Hotwater Maintenance (electrical contracting)
- Current company comprising of - Embecon / MBT / SKW / Degussa / BASF / MBS (Lone Star)
How has your role changed/shifted since you began?
I was initially employed by the company in Newcastle as a technical sales representative and after approx. 2½ years I had exceeded company expectations and was transferred to Adelaide in 1985 as the South Australian State Manager and in addition to this role I was involved with the integration of Australian Master Builders an Adelaide family business that we had just acquired. During my 4½ years in this role the company transferred me back to the East Coast as Queensland State Manager.
After 5½ years as Queensland State Manager I relinquished this position to further my challenges within the company. In conjunction with two other colleagues I was instrumental in putting together a business plan to establish our Underground Construction Division (UGC) within Australia which was then formally launched in May 1995 and I became the first fulltime employee in this division.
How has shotcrete technology developed over the years?
Initially in the early 90’s shotcrete used for ground support underground wasn’t given the focus it needed to make it a safe and efficient operation and consequently little of it was used. When a strong focus started to be introduced by our company through UGC the industry started to become educated in adopting improvements. Over the years it progressed from being a “so-called” Rodeo to an Equestrian event. In other words, the shotcrete industry matured and eliminated a lot of bad habits.
Below is an excerpt from the ‘Recommended Practice of Shotcreting in Australia’ which provides a good overview of the development of shotcrete in this country over the years.
Ground Support in Mining Mechanised application of shotcrete in Australian mines first occurred in 1994. Initially, shotcrete was applied over installed mesh and bolts in areas of bad ground where mesh alone was inadequate. However, FRS (Fibre Reinforced Shotcrete) progressively replaced mesh as the preferred method of ground support in underground mines during the 1990s due to the following reasons:
- The effectiveness of ground support achieved with FRS and post-bolting significantly exceeded the effectiveness of ground support achieved with bolts and mesh.
- Increased safety achieved by not exposing personnel to unsupported ground.
- The speed of mining development improved using shotcrete.
- The proportion of rehabilitation of ground support was reduced significantly.
- The increased availability of mechanised spraying equipment and reduced labour requirements in the ground support process. One of the key developments that improved the efficiency of using shotcrete for ground support was the move to in-cycle shotcreting. In this process the shotcrete was applied during the development cycle, after blasting and before the installation of rock bolts. In this way, the use of mesh was not required and the bolts were installed through the shotcrete layer. This method resulted in the bolt plates being installed over the shotcrete layer, providing a superior load transfer connection between the shotcrete layer and the ground.
What are some top tips when using shotcrete in a project?
- Firstly, familiarise yourself with the site requirements.
- Make sure the shotcrete mix design is adequate for the job.
- Conduct site trials in the initial stages.
- Educate all site personnel in the shotcrete process, this includes batchers, sprayers, Agi drivers, site engineers, etc.
- Make sure that shotcrete equipment, including accelerator dosing pumps are suitable for the application.
- Conduct appropriate tests to confirm that performance criteria is being met.
What major projects have you worked on? What were your favourites?
- Melbourne City Link Tunnels
- North West Rail Link
- Sydney M5 East Motorway
- T2T Bryon Bay
- Sydney Eastern Distributor
- Epping to Chatswood Rail Line
- Clem Jones Tunnel Brisbane
- Airport Link Tunnel Brisbane
- Boggo Road Busway Brisbane
Too many metalliferous and coal mines to mention but my two favourites are: Freeport mine in West Papua and Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia. Both sites are in the top 5 largest sites in the world and needed shotcrete to compliment their ground support regime. Overall Freeport was my biggest reward that brought me and the company the biggest satisfaction. Below is a short overview of that accomplishment.
Organised a meeting with senior management at Freeport Mine, West Papua and offered a solution utilizing our technologies in shotcrete for their ground support requirements. They had initially refused my offer saying they had previously trialled shotcrete on site which had not met their expectations due to extremely difficult site conditions and tough logistical issues to carry out such a process. I understood and agreed with their apprehensions and offered our services and commitment to address these concerns to provide the required solutions to establish an effective shotcrete operation on site for the overall improvement of their ground support regime. They finally agreed with my proposal and as a result of extensive trials and intensive site training over a 2 year period we created a highly successful shotcrete operation for their underground mine which had substantially improved their mining operations and resulted in millions of dollars revenue for our company each year. For many years it became the largest UGC site for revenue worldwide.
How are you enjoying retirement?
I certainly am enjoying retirement even though my wife is the toughest boss I’ve ever worked for. I guess she is catching up for lost time over all those years spent away from home.
Despite my wife cracking the whip it does allow me to also catch up on things I haven’t had enough time for, such as golf and fishing but having said that my handicap hasn’t dropped and I’m still catching stuff all fish,…..but at least I’ve now got time to improve on this (hopefully)!!
What is some advice you would you give someone in the industry?
In today’s demanding business, especially in our line of activity associated with the mining and tunnelling industries, our customers at times struggle to secure satisfactory levels of qualified and experienced people therefore they place a high demand on others, such as suppliers to support this shortfall, therefore we become a so-called extension of their organization which then initiates a strong alliance. Through the development of this association we build on strong relationships and hence there is a steady reliance on us to help sustain stability and growth within their business, it then becomes a win/win for both parties. To support this development it requires clear focus which leads to significant momentum which in turn creates long term relationships and sales.
Also, I would highly recommend joining industry committees which allows you to develop good personal relations and a different level of respect from the industry.
As a reference:
I was one of the founding committee members of the Australian Shotcrete Society dating back since 1998 and was one of the steering committee members for the publication on the “Recommended Practice for Shotcreting in Australia” which we have now released the 3rd edition. I was also on the National Committee for the ATS (Australasian Tunnelling Society) for 8 yrs and on the Qld chapter for much longer.
From all us here at Master Builders Solutions, we thank you for your passion, time, knowledge and support and we wish you all the best with your future endeavours.