Contractor spotlight: Redpath Mining
While the coal sector continues to experience a downturn, Redpath has a vision for its future.
Founded in 1962, Redpath Mining provides an array of solutions to the underground coal, metalliferous, and raiseboring industries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. The company has amassed years of technical and operational expertise, building a solid reputation for applying innovative solutions with modern technology to deliver on their clients’ needs.
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“It is important to us that we can deliver on our clients’ expectations, no matter the project,” said Gavin Ramage, General Manager of Redpath Australia’s coal division. “From providing world-class, innovative coal mine development solutions for our clients, to supplying high-value, reliable plant, equipment, and resources for projects, we really do it all for our clients.”
Redpath sees its value in its resources and the skills they offer, despite the rough road the coal market is facing.
“Ultimately my vision for Redpath is that we are regarded as a trusted, professional contractor-of-choice for the coal mining development sector, delivering high-standard engineering, and construction personnel and services,” said Ramage. “Our success in this industry will depend on how we can continuously improve ourselves in response to market demand. I’m confident Redpath is up for the challenge.”
Experience is knowledge
To drive efficiency and achieve objectives for clients, Redpath leverages its knowledge and experience across all projects the company takes on. It also works to continuously improve in all aspects.
“As part of our success, we approach each new project with fresh eyes, and build on lessons learned from previous projects. This process of continuous improvement is something that is done at all levels throughout the organization. Staff is actively encouraged to provide solutions that are safer, faster and more cost effective across everything we do, from plant equipment procurement and usage, the type of materials used to reinforce underground tunnels, through to resource, and task allocation.
“I think we have shown our clients that we are very adaptable in our product delivery, and that we have the capabilities to deliver this well into the future.”
“Our longstanding global history in mine development and other underground services enables us to bring cutting edge technology to Australia. We have a great reputation for delivering more with less, and providing innovative solutions to problems which provide long-term cost efficiencies,” said Ramage. “To put it simply, if you come to us with a project request, we can fulfill it. Consider it done.”
Redpath’s technological advancements have been the backbone to delivering operational efficiencies in outputs for clients. The company isn’t afraid to adopt knowledge from the civil and metalliferous sectors and apply them to the coal industry.
“For example, our sliding floor technology for Drift Excavation provides better access to mines by using hydraulic rams to move the floor in a caterpillar-like sequence to allow it to act as a base for the bridge conveyor and ventilation duct installation and extension systems,” Ramage said
Another important aspect to the company is its employees, as they are the heart of Redpath’s success. And while Redpath employs staff from a number of different sectors and backgrounds, which also helps to drive innovation, the company acquires most of its employees through direct recruitment. The company is keen on hiring locally.
“Recruiting locally has a number of benefits, including staff having a familiarity with the area and project, and also experience from working on similar projects within Australia,” said Ramage.
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New staff are put through a rigorous training program that incorporates Redpath’s ideology and processes in an on-site classroom setting.
“From the very beginning we educate employees about problem-solving on-the-job challenges as they arise, and developing solutions that are safer, faster and more cost effective for our clients. The program itself focuses on not just inducting staff onto the project, and educating them on our safety standards and compliance, but also about the Redpath way,” said Ramage.
“Sharing knowledge and educating staff about a new way of doing things, or reinforcing our high safety standards happens on-site regularly. This commitment to best practice and continual reinforcement has been of great value to our staff but also to our project supervisors in keeping Redpath’s priorities top of mind to all employees and contractors.”
Over the past few years, innovation has been a driving force for Redpath, while at the same time, ensuring that key services and projects are executed for their clients. Some recent projects have included a $120 million extension project, and a $250 million mine development project, both successfully executed within the Bowen Basin.
“The objective of the mine extension project was to replace the existing mine by replicating the required mine infrastructure on a new part of the mining lease. Over a period of two years we were engaged in the development of two mine access drifts, and the associated in-seam coal development to allow the commencement of longwall mining activities,” said Ramage.
“In addition, we were responsible for the installation of a life of mine precast concrete roadway in both drifts. This job was as challenging as it sounds, but we were able to transform delivery through the introduction of key technological advances involving roadheaders and sliding floors. “
“Redpath can deliver project solutions on a global basis with local support and knowledge to provide surety of project delivery. Through our international offices across Asia, Europe, North America and South America, Redpath can offer specialist knowledge in all areas of coal mine development and construction.”
Mining Profile: Mike Henry, CEO, BHP
Mike Henry has over 30 years’ experience in the resources industry, working across the globe in Australia, Asia, North America, and Europe; he joined BHP in 2003. A member of the executive leadership team since 2011, Henry has held roles spanning operational, commercial, and technical.
Mike Henry graduated from the University of British Colombia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He began his career in the resources industry working for Japanese tech giant Mitsubishi. Henry’s first contact with BHP came in Australia in 1999 when he helped set up the company’s coal joint venture, the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA). By 2001, Henry had risen to Vice President of Business Development for the BMA before joining BHP’s energy coal business full time.
During his time at BHP prior roles have included President HSE, Marketing & Technology 2013-14 and President of the company’s coal business from 2015-16. Prior to succeeding Andrew McKenzie as CEO in January 2020, Henry served as President for Operations, Minerals Australia focusing on iron ore, copper, coal and nickel. Henry led 40,000 people across six assets, with revenues of $29bn, EBITDA of $16bn and a capital spend of $3bn
Under Henry’s leadership, BHP’s Minerals Australia business reduced the frequency of high potential injuries by 60% and, for the first time, became the world’s lowest-cost major iron ore producer.
Mike Henry’s exposure to the company’s global marketing efforts between 2010 and 2015 saw him earmarked for the top job at BHP, developing crucial relationships with the mining giant’s customers in China and Japan.
“His operational experience, his commercial experience, his strategic skill, his global experience … that makes him a great candidate to be the next CEO of BHP,” said outgoing CEO Andrew MacKenzie of Henry’s appointment to the role last year.
Inclusion & Diversity
Growing up in a biracial family with a mother of Japanese heritage who worked as a nurse in emergency services, Henry witnessed and experienced both ends of the inclusion spectrum.
“[Inclusion & Diversity] is quite personal for me.. I am absolutely convinced that having an inclusive culture and diverse workforce is mission critical for BHP,” he says. “Inclusive, diverse teams perform better – because they promote safety, productivity and wellbeing. Getting this right will be a serious competitive advantage for BHP. It will help us secure and motivate the best people, we’ll be more creative, and we’ll make better decisions.”
Henry spent the first half of his career in an environment where he was not from the mainstream, but where people went the extra mile to ensure he felt wholly included. “Without exception, it’s been in high-inclusion environments that I’ve thrived,” he recalls. “Where I’ve felt most fulfilled as a person. When I’ve been most committed and motivated, and where I’ve made my most significant contribution. On the rare occasion when I’ve been in an environment I experienced as less inclusive, I haven’t been at my best – a lost opportunity for both me and those around me. I have two adult daughters and my aspiration for them is that they are able to realise their dreams and potential, unconstrained by gender, or race. I need to demonstrate the values and leadership that reflect where I’ve come from and the world that I hope for and believe is possible.”
Having lead teams globally, across cultures and disciplines, Henry’s experience has been that the teams that have unlocked exceptional outcomes have been those that are highly inclusive. “There’s been an excitement and enthusiasm in those teams that sees people challenge themselves, reach higher, and be more creative,” he notes.
“Those teams are the ones that everyone wants to be part of, and the ones that truly innovate and push the organisation to new frontiers. Being part of those teams and leading them has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career. I am passionate about seeing people stretch themselves, learn that they’re capable of more than they perhaps thought and experience the joy of realising great outcomes.”
What does the future hold? "BHP is a company that is steeped in history,” said Henry on his appointment last year. “The one constant for the whole of BHP’s 153-year history had been great people. If you’ve got the right people you can do amazing things."