Strata Worldwide was pleased to welcome Tony Napier as president and managing director of its Australian operations in February of 2022.
Napier is based at the company’s head office in Newcastle, New South Wales, and brings over 30 years of mining and technology experience to the role. Between 2015 to 2021, he worked for Northern Light Technologies (NLT), serving first as general manager, then CEO of NLT Digital Solutions, before joining Strata.
Prior to his seats with NLT, he served as CEO of Becker Mining Systems Australia from 2005 to 2014.
At Strata, Napier’s role includes expanding the company’s product offerings, as well as its presence in mining and tunnelling across Australia and into APAC countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
Mining is one of the largest industries in Australia, accounting for over 10% of the country's GDP and employing over 270,000 workers. Australia is the largest exporter of coal in the world by energy and economic value; Indonesia is ranked number one by export weight. In 2019, the country was the world's largest producer of iron ore and bauxite; the second largest of gold, manganese and lead; the third largest of zinc, cobalt and uranium; and among the top 10 in salt, copper, nickel, silver and tin.
"Strata is well known in the coal industry worldwide, including Australia," Napier says, "and we see enormous potential for bringing our innovative products and technology to the Australian hard rock mining and tunnelling industries."
Napier says that Strata Australia has been a significant source of innovation for the mining industry. The company’s underground communications and safety products lines are an important element of the new generation of mining technology to make underground operations safer, more connected and more efficient. He is eager to introduce technologies often taken for granted on the surface, such as high-speed data networks, wireless communications, and proximity detection solutions into the underground environment.
The underground mining space is inherently challenging with its harsh working conditions. Still, he says, considerations must be made for the wide variances in mining operations and diverse locations and environments. Napier points out that mines and tunnel construction have a limited lifespan so any technology solution must produce tangible benefits and a fast return on investment to make sense for a mine operator.
“Proximity detection technology is becoming widely accepted and implemented in both mining and tunnelling,” he says. “Australian safety standards recommend their installation, and the data collection that comes with the systems is vital to improving safety conditions and preventing injuries and equipment losses.”
Other proximity detection systems provide the EMESRT Level 7 standard of safety (alarm/awareness), but Strata’s technologies, some of the most advanced in the market, include Level 9 capability of full intervention control. Napier says that many countries will be implementing that safety standard in underground mining over the next few years.
Ease of installation, training and reduced downtime for maintenance and repair are factors in an operator’s decision regarding safety systems. Napier is confident many operators will see quick returns on their investments by installing Strata’s proximity detection systems. The systems have been proven to increase profitability by preventing costly incidents and reducing maintenance costs and equipment damage. They also improve SOPs and training by tracking near-misses and help position operations as employers of choice because of their commitment to a safer workplace.
In March 2021, Strata became a proud partner of the Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE) in Mackay, Queensland. Strata’s systems and products are a part of the facility’s simulated underground mine and are used in research and training for people working in the industry. Strata has an office within the facility with personnel on-site daily.
Then in June 2021, the company opened an office located within the Core Innovation Hub on St. Georges Terrace in Perth, Western Australia. CORE is a collaboration and innovation hub that functions as a common point for operators, suppliers, researchers, entrepreneurs and start-ups to connect and collaborate on innovative challenges. As the third staffed location within the country, this facility is a direct part of the company’s goals to expand and diversify its markets in both industries and geographic regions.
“Since 1997 Strata Australia has been providing innovative safety solutions to the Australian coal market and now we are poised to replicate that success and innovation across the broader hard rock and tunnel construction markets, both of which are growing significantly in recent years,” stated Napier.