Headquartered in one of the largest coal regions on earth, QCC Resources (QCC) is the essence of strategic consulting for coal processing.
The Australian-based company specializes in design, engineering, operations and optimization of coal preparation plants throughout Australia, China, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada and Russia.
“QCC Resources was born in 1987 at a time when consultants to the coal industry were a new thing,” says Andrew Swanson, Executive General Manager Strategic Consulting and Business Development.
“Over time we’ve grown as the use of consultants, engineers and contractors has continued to expand.”
In 2004, the company was purchased by Downer EDI Limited, becoming part of the company’s mining division. QCC, working with Downer Infrastructure, has become an established provider of Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) design and construction services to the coal industry internationally.
The company recently completed one of the largest projects of its kind, working in unison with Glencore to deliver the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the Ravensworth North Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) in Hunter Valley, Australia.
Ravensworth North coal project:
Known as the Ravensworth North coal project, the Downer/QCC portion of the project involved not only the establishment of CHPP facilities, but also the site wide electrical work, which required the relocation of a 330kV Transgrid transmission line requiring 48 new towers plus construction of a new 66/11kV substation, relocation of a 66kV Ausgrid transmission line and various overhead and underground HV works including all 11kV site wide reticulation.
To complete the project as efficiently as possible, Downer/QCC entered into an alliance contract partnership with Xstrata Coal, now incorporated into Glencore.
“We set up an alliance partnership between Downer/QCC and Xstrata Coal to form a good working relationship that could effectively deliver all the key aspects of the project in a timely manner,” says Swanson.
“Our teams were onsite for two and a half years delivering two million site hours with over 650 people onsite at the peak of construction. Importantly no lost time injuries were incurred and the project achieved a total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) of 5.7.”
QCC had been working with Glencore in alliance projects since 2005, including CHPP work at Mt Owen, Liddell and Mangoola, and started work on Ravensworth North back in 2009 when QCC began assisting in the project for Xstrata Coal.
“We started off in 2009 doing a concept study for Xstrata, that progressed into a pre-feasibility study, followed by feasibility study and then set the design and scope for the Ravensworth North project,” says Swanson.
One of the biggest challenges in delivering the Ravensworth project was that it had to be constructed within an existing operational facility and was therefore governed by a wide range of constraints, incorporated within a large geographical area.
The project provided a 3000 t/h raw coal delivery system, two new 900 t/h processing modules, rejects handling and product stockpiling/reclaiming facilities. According to Swanson, an interesting fact is that the project required 14 new conveyors to be designed and constructed.
“The total length of the new conveyor network was over 9 kilometers. In addition, upgrades were required for existing conveyors which covered just under 5 kilometers, bringing the total length of the entire conveyor network to an incredible 13.9 kilometers.”
A key factor in overcoming the challenges was the deployment of QCC Resources team members from the recently successfully completed Mangoola project. The team brought with them high levels of technical expertise and valuable onsite experience. In addition, they were assisted by teams from Downer Infrastructure East who delivered all of the electrical work and some of the SMP work.
The core of QCC Resources’ business lies in strategic consulting in coal processing, engineering and design, and project delivery.
“We have a deep understanding of coal quality and processing,” says Swanson. “That’s what sets us apart and drives great results in our process plant design and in our construction projects.”
In partnership with other Downer business units, QCC is able to provide an enormous wealth of capability to the coal mining industry.
“We originally joined the Downer business so we would have the ability to design, construct and supply whole coal preparation plants for the industry,” says Swanson. “QCC carries out the process work and delivers the plant designs, and with Downer we are able to offer a full suite of services from the early stages of a project (feasibility studies, engineering and design) to the execution.”
“We are able to bring our experience across the whole spectrum of the coal development and production cycle,” says Swanson. “We’ve looked at all different types of coal and coal problems across Australia, and have also done a number of projects overseas. So when people engage QCC, all that experience comes as part of the package and this expertise is highly valued by our clients.”
Tools of the trade
Along with partnering with Downer, a key attribute of QCC is its wide array of experience in the industry. QCC’s team of employees brings a great depth of knowledge and expertise to projects, helping clients develop strategies and designs that will provide the optimum solutions.
To keep its team as sharp as possible, QCC conducts a wide range of ongoing training programs. The goal is to maintain a high level of knowledge and experience within a wide array of specialty fields.
“We have formal training programs including our young professionals initiative,” says Swanson. “We also provide employees with specific training courses as well as rotating them around different positions. Staff are allocated to various jobs so they can understand all aspects of the trade.”
Technology is another vital aspect for QCC. The company incorporates a range of technological tools in its operations from designing to implementation.
“From the design point of view, it was only 20 years ago when a project needed up to 100 draftsmen to design a plant,” says Swanson. “Now, we have AutoCAD, 3-D design, animation and other tools. It’s been a huge help in the design process.”
According to Swanson, process simulation software has been essential to the company streamlining and improving the design of coal preparation circuits and the selection of equipment.
“With computer process simulation software, we can put together a detailed analysis of the design with all aspects configured in. That way, we can see what works and what doesn’t work. The software allows us to streamline the process and be more efficient but more importantly, we can simulate a slew of possible scenarios, helping us come up with a robust design.”
“We’ve seen a huge improvement in simulation software and we’re continuing to make big investments in continuing to refine our system and models,” says Swanson.”
In response to changing customer requirements across the resources sector, QCC is aligning its services with another of Downer’s resource focused companies, Mineral Technologies (MT), to deliver fully integrated process solutions for coal and minerals worldwide.
These solutions incorporate services and equipment delivered across major coal regions with a focus on all stages of the project lifecycle from early concept and feasibility through process design and construction to ongoing plant optimization, operation and maintenance and decommissioning.
Combining the technology and process skills of QCC and MT, with the construction capability of Downer Infrastructure, cost effective fully integrated process solutions can be delivered to the mining industry.