TerraCom : Forging an International Coal-ition

Ed BuddsEddie Clinton
Ed Budds - Editor Eddie Clinton - Senior Head of Projects
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TerraCom is an Australian-based mining resources company encompassing an impressive portfolio of operating assets and exploration projects within the national coal sectors of Australia and South Africa. We learn more about this global operation with a community-centric core from Managing Director, Danny McCarthy.

FORGING AN INTERNATIONAL COAL-ITION

Coal is a cornerstone of Australian industry. Built on the efforts of hard-working Australians across regional operations, the sector has a strong future which promises to meet all the requirements of a modern economy. 

Despite the ongoing negative rhetoric concerning coal, Danny McCarthy, Managing Director of TerraCom, believes that the resource will remain at the forefront of Australian industry for a long while yet.  

“Whilst alternate energy sources are discussed and strategised over, the coal industry will continue to keep the lights on in Australia and indeed around the globe until a like-for-like energy source can eventually replace it,” he introduces. 

Coal mining in Australia is a highly sophisticated and high-tech process. Continuous improvements in mining technology, occupational health and safety and environmental performance have ensured Australia’s standing as an efficient and reliable producer of high-quality, low-cost thermal and metallurgical coal for the domestic and international markets. 

Regarding South Africa (SA), TerraCom’s other major operational market, coal mining underpins the nation’s economy and is an important contributor to its success and longevity. Coal usage is integral to SA’s energy sector and over the course of the past decade, the nation’s public-owned utility, Eskom, announced the construction of the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power plants to enable continued electricity supply for its people for decades to come.   

Growing up in Central Queensland, McCarthy’s interest in the mining industry commenced at a young age. His father was an underground miner who transitioned to surface mines in the late 1970s, and it was this early exposure to the industry that ultimately led to McCarthy forging his own path within it. 

“I was intrigued by the sheer size and complexity of the mining process,” he recalls. 

Fast forward through 27 varied years in the mining, minerals processing and resources sector within Australia, and McCarthy started working with TerraCom as Chief Executive Officer in December 2018, as the company was poised to start implementing an improvement agenda focused on long-term sustainability for employees and shareholders.

EXPANDING A GLOBAL REACH 

Having grown significantly to now boast a global footprint, TerraCom is an Australian-based mining resources company, comprising a large portfolio of operating assets in Australia and SA with an impressive suite of exploration projects within the vast coal sectors of these two nations.  

“We are a renowned low-cost producer focused on delivering exceptional outcomes from our high-yielding diversified asset portfolio for investors,” explains McCarthy. 

On a combined basis, via both direct and contractor engagement, TerraCom now employs approximately 3,600 people worldwide.  

“Our people are our business, and their continued dedication allows us to consistently deliver products to our customers every day of the week, and every day is the chance to better the achievements of yesterday,” he continues.  

The Australian business unit of TerraCom comprises the flagship Blair Athol coal mine located in Clermont, Queensland, as well as a large portfolio of exploration and evaluation assets predominantly located in the Northern Galilee coal region.   

The life of the Blair Athol mine is projected at more than eight years at the current run rate of 2.2 million tonnes for export, and TerraCom continues to explore several potential near-mine expansion opportunities which could see the facility utilised as a processing precinct for many decades to come.  

In SA, TerraCom, via its 100 percent ownership of Universal Coal Plc, holds an interest in a portfolio of producing, development and exploration assets located across the nation’s major coalfields. There are currently three operational mines including the North Block Complex, New Clydesdale Colliery and Ubuntu Colliery.   

The SA operations provide domestic quality coal to Eskom, and also supply high quality export coal to customers via the Richards Bay and Maputo coal terminals.

Danny Mccarthy

“Our people are our business, and their continued dedication allows us to consistently deliver products to our customers every day of the week”

Danny McCarthy, Managing Director, TerraCom

INSPIRATION THROUGH ACCOUNTABILITY 

TerraCom currently finds itself in a unique position whereby it does not have the bureaucracy that some larger organisations in the industry have.  

“We are flexible and agile, and this allows us to quickly adjust to meet the changing demands and parameters of the market, internal business requirements and stakeholders,” McCarthy outlines.  

The main ethos of the company is “we do what we say”, which is extremely important both within the organisation and when dealing with external stakeholders. TerraCom strives to maintain a high level of leadership and show accountability for everything it does, and this subsequently inspires its entire team to remain committed to goals, be attentive during all tasks, and crucially, never lose sight of opportunities to grow. 

“Our mantra is simple yet compelling – be better than our peers, deliver reliable and consistent products, and be cost-conscious with every dollar spent. There is no ‘done’ or finish line; our sights are continually honed on being better at every turn. With each interaction, every movement and motion, we aim higher and higher and higher, and we do it at every chance we get,” he adds. 

This is critical in building positive community relationships. Indeed, the strength and success of TerraCom, whilst founded on its people, is underpinned by long-term business partnerships with several key equipment and contracting partners.  

“As part of our everyday actions, we strive for continuous improvement. We know there’s always something to learn from what we’ve done; whether that be the way we act, the choices we make, how we live out our cultural values or how we treat each other and the wider community,” McCarthy says. 

Elsewhere, TerraCom also works cooperatively with local communities to progress its projects both in Australia and internationally, and is committed to a positive programme of engagement in every community in which it operates.  

In Australia, the Blair Athol mine plays an integral part in the Clermont community. In addition to providing community group support, TerraCom has recently completed the onboarding of 16 local traineeships and is launching an apprenticeship programme providing careers in mining and skills pathways to further support the future of Clermont and the wider central highlands region. 

Further to these community-building initiatives, TerraCom is also a well-regarded supporter of CQ Rescue, a community-funded rescue helicopter service based in Mackay, Queensland. CQ Rescue is an instrumental service across Central and North Queensland, providing the community and stakeholders with a sustainable and supported, world-class aeromedical and emergency helicopter rescue service available to anyone, anywhere at any time. 

For the South African strand of the business, TerraCom, via its subsidiaries, has identified education as a key area that will change the lives of the youth in the company’s host communities and will therefore continue to offer skills, training programmes, internships and funding for higher education and donations to local schools across its operations.

MAXIMISING AN EFFICIENT SUPPLY NETWORK 

TerraCom transports products from its mining facilities to customers by rail, train, truck and ship. The business partners that provide the company’s supply chain services are well-established, reputable firms that are deeply engrained in the industry. 

It is TerraCom’s preference to always work with local suppliers, in order to promote local community growth and support the availability of skilled labour, goods, and services from stakeholders near its operations in both Australia and South Africa. 

The reality is, successful partnerships don’t just happen, and TerraCom recognises the genuine relationships that it has built with its customers and valuable business partners who have supported the company along the way.  

“These highly reputable and established relationships emphasise accountability across all areas of our business; we focus on priorities and gauge business metrics to track and measure performance which help us to thrive, creating more value than we otherwise would,” ensures McCarthy. 

Of equal importance to TerraCom is protecting the unique environment of the areas in which the company operates and managing social responsibilities with immense sincerity.   

“Our commitment is being responsible to minimise our impact, to progressively rehabilitate areas disturbed during our operations, and preserve or restore the long-term health and sustainability of the environment where we operate,” McCarthy tells us. 

The advancement of this rehabilitation is being completed progressively at TerraCom’s Blair Athol mine in Clermont and its South African operations, with the aim of significantly reducing rehabilitation activities at the end of the mine’s life. The mine currently has dedicated rehabilitation equipment and resources to undertake the necessary rehabilitation works with additional support from the production dozer fleet.

PROMISING NEXT STEPS 

It is now TerraCom’s immediate focus to continue to ensure dividends flow to shareholders and the company remains open to the right growth opportunities that pass its strict investment criteria.  

“Ensuring responsible management of capital within our recently developed framework is a key focus, and our growth agenda is governed by responsible decision making for opportunities that add value to our story,” wraps up McCarthy. 

The story of TerraCom is one that looks set to continue unwinding in exciting new directions and promises to deliver a highly satisfying overarching narrative for all characters involved, in line with the company’s relentless ambition for forward progress.

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By Eddie Clinton Senior Head of Projects
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