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Field Mining Services Group is flying in the face of the coal downturn with plans for a new $5 million workshop in Paget, Mackay.

It is a case of the group outgrowing the capabilities of its current Paget premises, where the major mining maintenance contractor has undertaken workshop activity for the past 13 years.

Chief operating officer Jason Holt expected it would invest a further $500,000 on top of the building costs for workshop machinery such as equipment for laser cutting and for bending and pressing steel.

Construction is expected to kick off early next year and the new facilities are hoped to be in business by the third quarter of 2021.

“The new workshop will be a purpose-built facility with overhead cranage,” Mr Holt said. “The shed we are in is older and not well suited for what we do.”

He admits the current coal downturn is something that ‘keeps me up at night’ with such an investment planned.

“We’ve been talking about this for about four years and we finally committed to it about 18 months ago,” he said.

“Then COVID hit and we pulled the reins on it, but workflow has been steady and the three business partners including myself have decided to keep going.

“We’ve got workflow there and a bit of a pipeline ahead of us – enough to make that decision a positive one for us.”

While the majority of Field Mining Services’ work was site-based, Mr Holt said it required increasing workshop capabilities and space to support that, and there was opportunity to leverage that aspect to continue to grow the business.

“We can be an end-to-end provider. We can fabricate in-house and install on site. If there’s something in a shutdown that needs off-site repair, we can then transport it to our workshop.”

The Central Queensland business employs about 300 people, with just over 20 at the existing Mackay workshop. But Mr Holt said that would increase as the new workshop came online.

“Mining is an unknown, we know that, so it’s good to diversify with what we do,” Mr Holt said.

“Our focus is on mining. We have some Tier 1 clients and we have supported them and they have supported us through the last two downturns.

“We are going to try to lock ourselves into some long-term contracts and keep servicing the area locally.”