Gearing up as new contract slots into place

Murray Grimes readies team to assemble and maintain National Group equipment at Cadia mine.

National Group CAT 793

Logistics. Weather. People. These are the biggest challenges when maintaining a fleet of heavy earthmoving equipment, says National Group’s Murray Grimes.

As the new Maintenance Superintendent for National Group’s Cadia contract in New South Wales, Grimes will lead a fast-growing team and oversee maintenance for a fleet of over 90 pieces of equipment.

When National Group interviewed Grimes for this story, a week of rain was predicted for Orange in Central Western NSW. New staff were joining his team and National Group was putting in the infrastructure to support the Cadia contract.

“We love a challenge,” says Grimes. “We’re putting in a big effort to get all the gear assembled, inspected and ready to go when the contract ramps up in early 2022. More diesel fitters and boilermakers are due to join the team, so we’ll have a decent-sized crew.”

Grimes, a diesel fitter by trade, rejoined National Group to lead maintenance on the Cadia contract. He has known National Group founder Mark Ackroyd for many years, having first worked for National Group 10 years ago.

“I liked the experience of working for National Group the first time around,” says Grimes. “The Cadia mine is a pretty big and exciting machine to be part of, so when the opportunity came to lead maintenance on National Group’s contract there, I jumped at it.”

Grimes knows Cadia well, having completed part of his apprenticeship in the Cadia East underground mine, which is the largest of its kind in the gold sector in Australia – and one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world.

As National Group Maintenance Superintendent at Cadia, Grimes will oversee a team of up to 40 people. Its fleet at Cadia will include Caterpillar 994K and 988K Large Wheel Loaders, Caterpillar 793 Dump Trucks, and the Hitachi ZX890 Excavator.

Grimes and his team will assemble and maintain the equipment on-site at Cadia (National Group has an equipment yard in Orange to support the contract).

“There’s some pretty cool machinery here,” says Grimes. “I still get a kick out of seeing equipment being assembled at a workshop or on-site and put to use on a mine. And then making sure that machinery is maintained really well and fixed quickly if there’s a breakdown.”

Building a strong team

National Group Team Members

The 42-year-old is looking forward to managing a larger team for the Cadia contract. “I’ve always believed in leading by example,” he says. I’m happy to jump back on the tools to help out if needed. But my focus is on building and developing a maintenance team that does an exceptional job on the National Group equipment at Cadia. The team is off to a good start. We’ve hired some good people who know their stuff, and have more on the way.”

Grimes hopes to take on extra management responsibilities at National Group over time. “I like managing people. I’ve spent a lot of time in the mining industry in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Western Australia, Central NSW and other places. I’ve met so many good people in the mining industry along the way. It will be good to be able to pass on that knowledge and experience to other diesel fitters coming through National Group.”

Grimes says National Group has changed a lot since he last worked there 10 years ago. “It’s phenomenal what Mark and the team have achieved. Their ability to put a fleet together in a short timeframe is off the chart. National Group has always had a strong reputation in maintenance, and it’s something our Cadia team wants to add to.”

Outside of his Cadia role, Grimes lives on a small farm at Elong Elong, almost two hours north of Orange by car. He has three kids ranging from 21 to four months. “It’s pretty hectic with family and work, but I seem to work well under pressure. I like solving problems and fixing things.”