Connecting New Zealand

Bitumen sustainability and resilience in focus at The Black Art

07 Sep 2023

Alternative materials, technical specialties and sustainability initiatives were in focus at The Black Art 2023 - a full-day technical event for practitioners of the black arts of bitumen construction, held at the Due Drop Events Centre in Manukau on 30 August. 

CCNZ Technical Manager Michelle Farrell said the event was a rich vein of technical bitumen information for contractors and clients alike, with the format of concise 15-minute presentations from industry experts providing fascinating insight into a very technical topic.

“This was a great event to hear about the advances we’re making in bitumen construction in New Zealand and around the world. It’s an industry that is always looking to the next steps, and getting everyone involved from the client and designer to the lab managers and construction crews means the whole industry can see what’s out there.” 

Hundreds of bitumen technical specialists flocked to this year’s event, to hear from speakers including Jan Willem Bulters of Miscancell, who joined the event live from the Netherlands to provide information on the use of naturally grown lignin extracted from locally-grown elephant grass as a sustainable bio-substitute for asphalt binders, to create Grasfalt©, of which more than 100,000m2 has already been laid across Dutch urban asphalt construction sites.

Emergency works, bitumen emulsion and asphalt stabilisation were some of the other topics covered, with international speaker Trevor Distin of Colas Group Australia returning to explore sustainable asphalt practices on low volume roads.Martin Gribble of Stantec presented on road widening methodology, while Nikhil Vishwanath of Road Science took on the challenge of improving resilience through emulsion stabilisation. Industry specifications were also in focus, with Grant Bosma of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency presenting on updates to M4 and P11 specifications and a panel discussion around what the shift to bitumen emulsion from hot cutback meant for the industry.

It was no surprise that sustainability initiatives featured heavily at an event themed ‘sustainable solutions in changing times’. Mark Cruden of Meyer Cruden Engineering presented on the real carbon footprint of roads, Sarah Lindberg of AECOM explored the connection between sustainability practitioner and pavement engineer and how to get beyond the ‘first date’, while AECOM young presenter Luke Elsen faced up to how the bitumen industry can ride the ‘sustainability tsunami’.

Emergency works also took the stage, with Nick Shilov of Hiways Group looking at delivering emergency works following Cyclone Gabrielle and Clare Dring of Fulton Hogan sharing learnings from the United States. Janus Grove, also of Fulton Hogan took the stage to present on long-term pavement resilience, while his fellow young presenter and Fulton Hogan colleague Annie Ganley presented on future of rheological bitumen testing methodologies. 

The Black Art was organised by Civil Contractors New Zealand, the National Surfacing Technical Group and the National Pavements Technical Group. 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 17 presentations across four presentation streams, with Dr. Doug Wilson of The University of Auckland taking the stage as event Master of Ceremonies.

The event ended on another highlight as Luke Elsen took home the Young Presenters Award for his entertaining and insightful presentation.

Ms Farrell thanked the event co-hosts the National Pavements Technical Group and National Surfacings Technical Group and this year's sponsors Stantec, Geotechnics, Fulton Hogan, Asco Asphalt, Inforce Global, Green Kiwi, Hiways Group and MacRebur. She said planning was already in the works for next year’s event.

Photos from the 2023 event will be available shortly on the CCNZ Facebook page, and presentations can be downloaded from the event DropBox.




Principal Business Partner
Core Associates
Major Associates
Vertu Equipment Limited
Winstone Aggregates
Northpine Ltd
Power Farming New Zealand Ltd
TRIG Instruments
Terra Cat
Marley NZ Ltd
Commercial Hire NZ Ltd
Doug the Digger
ERoad Ltd
AECOM New Zealand Limited
Westpac NZ Ltd
Absolute Immigration NZ
XCMG New Zealand
Portacom New Zealand Limited
Mico New Zealand Ltd
Steelgal NZ Ltd
Fluiconnecto Ryco New Zealand Ltd
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Milwaukee Tool New Zealand
Vertical Horizonz NZ Ltd
Capital Consulting International NZ Limited
John Deere Limited
Reliance Reinforcing Limited
Geofabrics New Zealand Ltd
Infrastructure Sustainability Council
The Drug Detection Agency
First Gas
Geosynthetic Partners International Ltd
Holcim New Zealand Ltd
Liebherr New Zealand
Wirtgen NZ Ltd
Franklin Smith Group
Rettenmaier New Zealand Ltd
Komatsu New Zealand Ltd
Global Survey - Auckland
Enviro NZ Services Ltd
Kobelco New Zealand
MBP (NZ) Ltd
SAMI Bitumen Technologies New Zealand Ltd
Hynds Pipe Systems
BNZ Partners
RobLawMax Recruitment
Teletrac Navman
TR Group
UDC Finance
Advice Financial
Brolube New Zealand
TLC Insurance Limited
A B Equipment Ltd
Sheet Pile Ltd
Southeys Group Auckland
Humes Pipeline Systems
Trade Me Jobs
Firth Certified Concrete
Infrastructure New Zealand
MATES In Construction
Terra Infrastructure Pty Ltd
H.J. Asmuss & Co. Ltd
Nulca NZ
Youngman Richardson
Turners Group Ltd: Head Office/Auckland
Porter Group Limited
Greenlight Insurance Brokers
Manage Company
Coninnova Limited
Hydraulink Fluid Connecters Ltd
Brandt Equipment
Checksafe Ltd
TotalEnergies NZ Ltd
CSP Div of Fletcher Steel
Over and Out Communications


Forgot password?
Create an Account