“The mining industry is a unique application and the mines we sell to have specific requirements for how the machines are configured,” he explained. “They want them without wheels, they want specific types of plumbing and fittings, the hoppers have to be a certain height and size, and there are safety features that they want added.”
Matt runs the business with brother Mike Jr., but it was their father Mike who founded Shotcrete Plus in the early 90s.
Mike, who has handed over management of the day-to-day business to his sons, also founded Ground Control (Sudbury) Ltd., owned Alo-tech Inc., an aluminum fabricator, and for six years served as manager of the NORCAT Mine, a training and experimental mine operated by the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology in Sudbury.
He began working with shotcrete when he owned Ground Control and has been teaching shotcrete certification courses through NORCAT for several years.
“In the early days,” said Mike, “shotcrete was considered a secondary means of ground support. Now, it’s used as a primary means of support.”
Shotcrete machines mix, pump and spray concrete at high velocity to secure the back and walls of underground drifts. It’s also used in underground lunchrooms and to build panels for ventilation barricades, backfill fences and storage rooms.
There are two different kinds of shotcrete – dry and wet. The dry product is delivered in 1,000 kg bags, hung over a shotcrete machine and fed into a hopper, from which it is forced into a hose, mixed with water and applied through a nozzle with the force of a sandblaster.
The force of the spray knocks the air out of the mixture, making it denser than conventionally poured concrete.
Shotcreting has always been a dirty job, especially in the confined space of underground drifts, but using 1,000 kg bags beats hoisting the 50-pound sacks of material into the hopper, as was the case until a few years ago.
It may be a dirty job, but it takes a skilled operator to apply shotcrete properly. NORCAT’s certification program, taught by Mike, contributes to improving shotcreting skill levels in the mining industry across Canada and the United States. In addition to the courses held in Sudbury, Mike also conducts training courses on request across North America.
A branch in Toronto, managed by Mike Jr., is focused on construction applications, including roads, curbs, sidewalks and swimming pools. Shotcrete can also be used to build skateboard parks, silos and even underground homes.
While manager of the NORCAT Mine, Mike built a surface structure by shotcreting 3,000 tires.
With the business now broadening to encompass manufacturing and distri-bution throughout North America, the Mooneys are busy laying the groundwork for a distribution network in the U.S.