It’s now been a month since Lovell Stone Group took over the lease on Hartham Park Bath Stone, underground quarry near Bath and during a very rare 5 -minute coffee break, I had time to reflect on the huge task we’ve had in getting the mine back on its feet.
The ‘to do’ list was endless and as we had never set up a mine from scratch before, there was a pretty steep learning curve. But we had experience on our side and although there were many lessons learnt over the past year, I am sure these lessons will help us make our future operations even bigger and better.
The biggest lesson was one we knew was important, but in a situation where health & safety is so critical, getting our mine team right sat at the very heart of plans. Without our amazingly experienced, enthusiastic and committed staff, we would not have achieved so much in such a short period of time.
From the outset, we were lucky to have Stephen Ainsworth on board. Stephen has industry leading experience and has worked in mines throughout the world, including Hartham. He has been instrumental in developing our operational plans, especially all aspects of Health & Safety, solving problems in different ways, saving us time and ensuring we had everything covered. The rest of the mine team shares his experience of Hartham and dedication – we could not ask for more.
The second important lesson is that you have to plan well in advance. You can’t have just one plan, but Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and so it goes on! With such a huge operation and the need to get the mine fully operational as soon as humanly possible, we planned for over a year and considered each and every aspect of the mine development so that once we start cutting block stone, we just won’t stop.
We have invested heavily in state-of-the-art machinery which takes months to arrive. Our new Fantini chain saw took over 9 months to arrive from Italy and it’s been a military operation, sourcing, buying and installing the mass of equipment we need. Even second hand machinery can take just as long, especially if like us, you find bits of kit that had been disused for years, in Denmark of all places, and decided to have them rebuilt and refurbished. So our Wagner Scooptrams are fighting fit again having been given some TLC and parts sent over from Canada.
So planning, having the right team, passion and determination have each played an important role to getting the mine back on track. It’s been a minefield to get to where we are and I am not sure if we will ever open a new mine again and if we do, we have a plan. If we don’t we have experience that has definitely not been wasted.
Simon Hart, Managing Director