South Queensland Lime (SQL) has over the course of its two-plus decades of operations forged a strong reputation as an independent supplier of calcium carbonate (limestone) products for the agricultural, industrial and mining sectors.
The wholly Australian-owned company has in recent years significantly expanded the scope of its activities, making substantial investments in its facilities and in turn bringing new products to market.
As explained by SQL SSE Mine Manager Mick Williams, located in the rural Queensland town of Gore, the SQL site draws on a long history dating back over 100 years, with its operations having originally been linked to a Brisbane- based cement works.
SQL itself was founded in 2000, acquiring an additional lease over the area, with a change of ownership in 2020 underscoring the wholly Australian-owned company’s long-term outlook and paving the way for further expansion in the mining and manufacturing industries.
Williams – who draws on 25 years of experience in the mining industry, nine of which have been at SQL – told EEM that SQL’s hands-on approach distinguishes its service offering, with a firm emphasis on both reliability and regular communication with its client base.
“Limestone is a very versatile mineral and is used in many aspects of our daily lives, from paints and glass all the way through to animal feeds, supplements and soil conditioners that treat acids and help improve the soils our foods grow in,” Williams explained.
“We have a high-quality limestone resource, with reserves of more than 20 years. Our large product sizing range spans from superfine through to large filter stone and flood rock, and every opportunity is on the table.”
Quality a key focus across a wide product range
Backed by a strong focus on quality control, SQL produces a number of products for the mining industry, with its high-quality ground calcium carbonate stone dust used for explosion prevention in underground coal mines, acid sulphate soil treatment and pH water treatment.
In addition to this, it produces lime products for glass manufacturing, industrial and functional fillers, and water and soil treatments, and provides the agricultural sector fertiliser elements, animal and poultry feeds, feedlot supplements and soil conditioning products.
“We supply products to livestock feed producers, agricultural resellers, feedlots, mining companies and the wider manufacturing industry across Queensland and interstate,” Williams said. “While not as large as some miners, we still move hundreds of thousands of materials annually.”
Williams noted that SQL has navigated a number of challenges in recent times, singling out severe weather conditions as being an unpredictable element that can have a significant effect on both production processes and market requirements.
“The main challenge we face would be weather and the extreme impacts it often has on our operations and our customers,” he told EEM.
“We’ve dealt with droughts and unprecedented animal feed demand in 2019, through to the challenges of managing Covid, and then right into the wettest year on record in 2022. Rain presents a challenge as powdered limestone needs to be kept dry at all times during the production process.”
In line with this, Williams noted that SQL has taken significant steps in recent years towards enhancing its production processes, moisture-proofing its production line, bolstering its capability and consistency.
Lovol FL966H Wheel Loader delivers uncomplicated and reliable operations
Earlier this year, SQL added a Lovol FL966H wheel loader to its fleet, with Williams explaining that the main reason the company opted for the FL966H, supplied by Toowoomba-based earthmoving and transport operator Equipment Specialists Australia (ESA), was “its simple mechanical operation.”
“We wanted a loader that delivered reliable operation, and was simple to maintain and manage, including its simple hydraulics and drive system,” he said.
“Local support was also a big factor given our remote location, and with the simplicity of the unit it meant that the price was very competitive at the time compared to other brands of machinery.”
The FL966H has thus far been working mainly on SQL’s mobile screen plant, which Williams noted supports it “in improving our yield and volumes.”
“It also supports other areas of the site when needed,” Williams told EEM. “It has good lifting capabilities and steady footing. Reports back from the operators also complement its good vision from the drive position and its smooth operation.”
The 22 tonne (operational weight) FL966H has a 6 tonne rated load capacity and runs a 192kW Deutz Weichai engine with a mechanical fuel pump (meaning no engine control unit), while limited electrically controlled functions eliminate problematic items.
It is equipped with a ZF powershift transmission (4F/3R with fast kick-down), Lovol axles and air-over-hydraulic disc brakes for superior stopping (a wet brake option is available), and additional features:
- A ROPs and FOPs-certified lined and sealed cab, lessening noise and vibration, with air-conditioning and an air-suspension seat
- A 4cbm GP bucket (with a choice of GP, rock, coal, grain and bulk buckets); 4.39m bucket lift height; boom lifting time of 5.7 seconds
- A pilot joystick with float position
- A Danfoss steering valve; hydraulic pressure of 3000 psi; fuel tank capacity of 180 litres; travel speed of 38km/h
- A one-piece fully opening side engine cover, enabling ample access (with no bolted covers to remove); patented composite reinforced pivot structure and bushings; radiator air flow is not obstructed by any items for industry-leading cooling
- Dimensions: 8.54m (length), 2.925m (width) and 3.4m (height).
Equipment Specialists Australia provides comprehensive service support
Williams said that ESA had delivered strong support across the sales process, assisting initially with gaining an understanding of the FL966H’s capabilities, which has in turn paved the way for its smooth integration into SQL’s operations.
“The before and after-sales service has been good, and in order to understand the machine in the early stages we were given a unit to test,” he said.
“They are easy to contact and parts are easily sourced. The relationship is only relatively new and there haven’t been any issues, and we expect this to continue based on what we have seen so far.”
This has helped SQL focus on its day-to-day operations, with Williams noting that business has been particularly busy over the last 12 months despite the challenges that many organisations are facing at present.
“Business has been on the rise for the last couple of years as agriculture and industry continue to learn the benefits of our products and the critical role they play in sustainable agriculture,” he said.
“Looking forward, I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon as the population grows and the world continues to focus on sustainability and improved soil health.”