Already weakened by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2010, the city was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on the 22nd of February 2011. As well as causing widespread damage to buildings, roads and infrastructure, tragically the quake claimed 185 lives. This disaster was compounded by two additional earthquakes in June and December of the same year. Over 100,000 homes were damaged, many of these were condemned. More than two thirds of the shops, hotels and office buildings in the heart of the city had to be demolished. The devastation was so widespread that it took nearly two years to fully quantify all of the damage. Early in 2013, the New Zealand government announced its total damage estimate which came in at a staggering $NZ40b ($A38b).
The massive effort being deployed to restore the city’s infrastructure has created a need for a huge amount of resources. This unprecedented demand has continued to grow, challenging local building companies and construction material suppliers to step up their production. Isaac Construction has been a long standing supplier of construction materials to the Christchurch region for many years. Much of the company’s quarry product is consumed in concrete and asphaltic concrete production. Isaac Construction is one of the companies that took on the challenge of meeting this ever-increasing demand, to help rebuild Christchurch. Initially the company achieved additional volume through a lot of hard work, driving its production staff and existing equipment to their limits. However, it soon became apparent that the need to expand the company’s production facilities was inevitable to ensure its ability to reliably meet demand over time.
McLean’s Island quarry – combining construction with conservation
Established by the Isaac’s family in 1957, Isaac Construction’s McLean’s Island quarry is one of the oldest established quarries in Christchurch. The quarry converts its raw material feed of incredibly hard, ancient river gravel into coarse natural concrete aggregate, blended sand (natural and Barmac dust), sealing chip for roads and aggregates for asphaltic concrete. Located just 18 km from the centre of Christchurch, the quarry is ideally placed to efficiently supply its products for the city’s reconstruction work.
Caring for the interests of the community and environment has long been part of Isaac Construction’s business approach. The company’s slogan “Combining Construction with Conservation” is proudly demonstrated through the work of The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust which was established by Sir Neil and Lady Diana Isaac in 1977. The trust focuses on three areas; flora, fauna and historic building conservation. In addition to the trust’s conservation of rare plant species, its captive breeding program rears for release a wide variety of New Zealand’s most endangered birds and reptiles. An important source of funding for these visionary conservation projects is derived from the profits made in the quarrying business.
Today, the trust’s facilities consist of; a Heritage Village, the Isaac Conservation Park, Peacock Springs Conservation area and farmland which are all co-located with the quarry on 1100 hectares of land at McLean’s Island.
Upgrading to meet market demands
After the 2011 earthquakes, Isaac Construction ramped up production and was eventually running double shifts to meet the increased demand for concrete production and road building materials. However, the plant’s production capacity and reliability started to become a major issue. This sometimes resulted in the need to buy in products to satisfy supply obligations. So towards the end of 2011 the company’s Management team agreed that an upgrade was required and boldly decided to treble the quarry’s production capacity from 100 to 300 tonnes per hour.
A tender process was initiated in February 2012 and after months of detailed bid reviews, Isaac Construction awarded a $NZ11M contract to MIMICO - Metso’s exclusive distributor in New Zealand. The contract included the design, supply, installation and commission of a new plant based on Metso’s crushing and screening equipment as well as its wear protection system. The plant was designed, fabricated and installed by QMI Engineering, a fully owned subsidiary of MIMICO. Commissioning was undertaken by MIMICO’s in-house service team. The upgrade was completed in three stages. Work on the primary and secondary sections started in early 2013 and was completed in September 2014. The tertiary section was started in November 2014 and was completed by May 2015.