MACKAY business Orionstone has been awarded a contract to supply mining machinery to Rio Tinto Alcan's Weipa bauxite operation.
In a first for the region, the rental machinery will be shipped north, rather than being transported by road.
Two separate trips will be required to transport the earthmoving machinery, with some dump trucks weighing up to 200 tonnes each.
It's yet another boon for Orionstone founder and Mackay businessman Ashley Fraser, who in 2012 was ranked fifth richest young Australian with an estimated net wealth of $195 million.
"The use of the sea barge was a competitive advantage in our tender ... in this case, given the large amount of equipment, we are able to do it more cost effectively by sea," Mr Fraser said.
The awarding of the contract is a welcome announcement in an industry that has been struggling of late.
At the end of 2012, Mr Fraser said Orionstone was forced to make 25 local positions redundant due to the slowdown in the mining sector.
But the company has since replaced the jobs lost, and expects to employ a further 18 workers, including apprentices, off the back of the Rio Tinto Alcan contract.
"It's ... stabilising our workforce here in Mackay and creates further opportunities for apprentices in the 2014 intake," Mr Fraser said.
He said Orionstone had an advantage because it had capitalised on a "trend by owner-miners to move from contracting to rental services".
People can view the barge leaving from the breakwater later this afternoon.
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