Practitioners of The Black Art pave the way forward

08 Sep 2022

More than 230 practitioners of the 'black arts' of bitumen and asphalt construction flocked to Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland for a full-day bitumen event, focused on sustainable road pavements and surfacings.

The Black Art was a full-day technical road surfacing and pavement workshop focused on bitumen and asphalt. It was organised by Civil Contractors New Zealand, the National Surfacing Technical Group and the National Pavements Technical Group, and held on Thursday 25 August.

CCNZ Technical Manager Stacy Goldsworthy said the event had become ‘a beacon’ for contractors and clients alike, with the format of concise 15-minute presentations from industry experts providing fascinating insight into a very technical topic.

“The day was really well received. This is an event that just keeps getting better and better. We have reached the stage where we have a mature event with great networking opportunities that’s adding a lot for everyone involved, so thanks to all our presenters, sponsors and everyone who attended.” 

Founded in 2000 as the Auckland Asphalt Forum, this event has become New Zealand’s national event for technical bitumen specialists. The day’s schedule included 20 presentations across four presentation streams, with Michael Haydon of WSP, who has been a driving force behind the event, taking the stage as event MC for the final time.

International speaker Trevor Distin of Colas Group spoke on asphalt recycling methods and the use of alternate materials such as recycled construction waste in asphalt mixes, while Colas’ Asia-Pacific Technical Director Xavier Guyot presented on global bitumen supply chains, and the differences in bitumen grading and specifications worldwide.

One of the standout presentations was a Link Alliance presentation from Moumy D’Sarma, Neil Quayle and Nick Braxton sharing ground-breaking research on the carbon footprint of New Zealand pavements.

Adam Leslie of Waka Kotahi NZTA reinforced the agency’s intention to mandate bitumen emulsion over hot cut back bitumen in all new contracts in New Zealand by 1 July 2024 to support better safety outcomes for industry.

Allen Browne of Hiways Group gave a preview of a new prototype chipsealing truck that reseals wheel ruts only as a solution to flushing in pavements, also the topic of Dave Alabaster’s presentation on the success of epoxy sealing as a remediation treatment.

Other highlights included Fulton Hogan Technical Director – Pavements and Materials Dr Bryan Pidwerbesky taking the stage to make the case for good engineering judgement as well as good computer modelling, and Daniel Ludemann of Higgins spoke of taking a risk-based approach to compliance throughout the ‘Black Tsunami’ - a year where the company had produced more than 950,000 tonnes of asphalt.

Richie Hepi of Mates in Construction made a rousing presentation on the importance of mental health, and incoming Auckland Business Chamber Chief Executive Simon Bridges’ keynote presentation explored the impact of government policy settings on businesses and the rhetoric-reality divide.

There were also some strong technical presentations on materials, such as the cost of inconsistency in aggregates in pavement design from Clare Dring of Fulton Hogan (representing the Aggregate and Quarry Association) and Greg Arnold of Road Science presented a fascinating case study on using good testing methodologies to prevent wheel rutting in asphalt under heavy loads.

The event ended on another highlight as Emile Van Zyl of Fulton Hogan took out the Young Presenters Award by presenting his field research - a deep dive exploring the alternatives to using nuclear density meters to gauge pavement density.

Mr Goldsworthy thanked the event co-hosts the National Pavements Technical Group and National Surfacings Technical Group and this year's sponsors Fulton Hogan, Geotechnics, Hiways Group, Sami Bitumen Technologies, Winstone Aggregates and Wirtgen Group. He said planning was now in the works for next year’s event, which was pencilled in for August 2023.

Photos from the event are available on the CCNZ Facebook page, and presentations can be downloaded from the event DropBox.

Michael Haydon took the stage as Event MC for the last time


The event provided some fantastic networking opportunities


Emile Van Zyl of Fulton Hogan was awarded the Young Presenter Award


Richie Hepi of Mates in Construction spoke about the need for good mental health in the industry







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