Goodline is the locally-owned company that supports Australia’s mining industry through providing some of the country’s highest quality construction and maintenance services. Established by John Kennedy in 1999, Goodline has grown to become an integral part of the country’s biggest and most-productive mines. Operating out of three divisions in Weipa, Darwin and Port Hedland the company, which prides itself on its safety and quality record, has completed projects for Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group, BHP Billiton, Santos and has recently completed a major contract for Royhill.
While the mining industry as a whole has been at the whim of dwindling commodity prices for the last few years, mining services companies have found it particularly difficult. Those without long-term contracts, relationships with ongoing projects and unique mine-specific knowledge have seen either a rush to the administrators as bankruptcy looms or had to strip back so much of the workforce that the skeletal remains cannot maintain anywhere near the same level of quality and contracts begin to move elsewhere.
“I don’t think we changed anything, a lot of people talk about what they changed to remain in the market today. It wasn’t about change for us because we had generally conditioned ourselves to remain sustainable in good and bad times, John [Kennedy] and the business always maintains an approach to continuous improvement, be multidisciplinary and pursues diversity,” says Dwayne Finch, Goodline’s general manager and Kennedy’s right-hand man.
Finch stresses that there is no job too difficult for Goodline and it is through flexibility and resilience that the company continued its success through the mining downturn.
For Goodline the challenge was to remain competitive despite falling commodity prices driving down profits across the board. One of the key areas is in cost, however, by reducing wages to such an extent you can expose yourself to competitors with higher wages poaching the residual intellectual expertise in the workforce.
“It was important to us to make sure we keep that core workforce going because that is where you get the real DNA and culture of the business in operation and you have to maintain that to keep performing, time served is a real ingredient of culture,” explains Finch.
“The real cost advantage is that you must be market competitive in terms of your hourly rate, however it is also about performing on site and then having the right skillset in the business that when you work on site you keep your resource levels low and productivity high.”
Goodline has a wealth of experience working on a number of Australia’s most influential resources projects. The relationships it has built with the majors served the company well as the industry began to shrink and work dried up.
According to Finch the company has been able to service such projects thanks to the key values and attributes that the management has endeavoured to instil throughout the company.
The business prides itself on its ability to provide a multi-discipline service to projects, in doing so engaging synergies in having one company complete multiple functions. In addition, Goodline has an impeccable safety record across the projects it has worked on and it ensures that it provides stable and safe facilities for contractors and staff. One of Goodline’s key differentiators in the market is that it offers a 24/7 service at the highest level of management. Finch says, “We are available at any time, if you want to get onto John, myself or anyone one of our people to provide assistance, we will be there to support our customers business, we are only a call and or plane flight away.”
Based on those lengthy relationships with Australia’s tier 1 mineral producers, Goodline was able to contract work throughout the downturn. While it completed some big shutdowns for the likes of FMG and BHP Billiton and continued to work on contracts for the local government, the primary project workload over the last 12 months was the contract Goodline serviced at the Pilbara-based Roy Hill iron ore project.
After completing major projects in Port Hedland port for BHP and FMG, Goodline had an opportunity to take over the Roy Hill Port construction during a difficult period.
“Goodline has previously worked on the Roy Hill project and is familiar with the overall construction schedule. We look forward to working with them,” Samsung said at the time.
Goodline were engaged by Samsung C&T to construct and commission the Port facilities package 3 – Area B and Area C, the works primarily consisted of multiple conveying systems, a re-screen/surge bin station, transfer and sampling stations and three balance machines, two stacking and one reclaiming.
“In addition to covering all SMPE&I scope activities at the Port, we completed detailed civil earthworks and a magnitude of E&I scope at the mine, we spent a combined total in excess of 1.83 million man hours on the project, with an impeccable safety record and handed over each system prior or upon the milestone date,” says Finch.
Finch is keen to emphasise the significance for Goodline working on a project of this magnitude, Roy Hill is expected to cost over AUS$10 billion overall. Being contracted for all the structural, mechanical and electrical installation works for the port as well as completing substantial packages at the mine was a fine demonstration of Goodline’s ability to operate in a multi-discipline approach. The project also demonstrated Goodline’s capabilities in terms of hiring labour and mobilising a workforce, “We had a workforce that peaked at just under 1,500 across the project. We had to mobilise that workforce quickly as it was a 12-month delivery for both port and mine operations,” explains Finch.
Following Goodline’s successful delivery of the contract at Roy Hill it has continued to win new business from the project, predominantly on smaller scale project packages in the mining area.
Another key area of work undertaken by Goodline in the last year was the pioneering marine package it secured with Rio Tinto at the Amrun project. Finch says that while this is not Goodline’s core area of expertise the company used its experience in the industry to make it work.
He says the only real difference in their approach was that they sub-contracted out a larger portion than they typically would for the marine project.
“Our marine partner was PMG Group out of North Queensland. They supplied us with the marine fleet to transport rock from Townsville into Weipa, they also carried out the piling activities for us.
“We typically don’t sub-contract work on site, this was a bigger step for us as a company,” explains Finch.
Finch understands the crucial role that Goodline’s supply chain plays in ensuring it can deliver high quality and safe contract work. He says Qantas is a key company they work with in terms of moving labour around the country, as its one of their largest spends. Goodline also supports local business in the area they operate out of. Goodline always engage local suppliers and providers as much as possible, generally the local hardware supplies.
Looking forward, Finch says the key priority in the near future is to continue to grow the multi-discipline elements of the company.
“We want to gain more diversity, expand our workshop and service operations and be more multi-disciplined in the shutdown space. By that I mean we are continuing to grow our services to include protective coating, scaffolding and access within our regions of work, we are also performing conveyor belting services for Rio Tinto’s bauxite operations in Gove and Weipa.
“We have spent a lot of money on the business, improving our fleet and operations. All the operations have had add-ons to them. Two of our major operations at Weipa and Port Hedland have blast and paint systems installed and we are the only remote EPA-compliant business available in those two regions.
“We are typically moving forward every day in a more challenging environment. It’s important to get synergies and to get people on the ground to do the jobs at the lowest cost in a productive and safe environment, we have good people providing a good service to our customers, this is in every facet of the business, the skill set is high and the DNA is strong.”