CONCRETE CANCER COVER-UP, CTD: Mitre 10 caught up in mess

If there is one certain feature of a cover-up it is that once cracks start appearing in the façade, so-called friends will quickly head for the hills.

As I roll out this exclusive WOBH series exposing a concrete cancer cover-up within the $400m concrete industry, I wonder who will stick around, and who will try and do a runner.

I have exposed cement importing company Drymix as being at the center of the controversy. With the Cement and Concrete Association (CCANZ) hooking its wagon up to Drymix, questions are being asked about who else will be caught up in the scandal as Whaleoil unravels this mess.

One such company is Mitre 10 which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and passed the $1 billion sales mark for the first time.

Questions are being asked about the integrity of the 2014 Mitre 10 Awards, particularly when Drymix was recipient of its 2014 Mitre 10 Building Products Supplier and 2014 Innovation Award for our Super Easy Mix in The Bag Range.


Perhaps it is a simple case of Mitre 10 not knowing that the imported cement it had been selling from the Vicem Bim Som factory in Vietnam through Drymix – could be the same dodgy cement that is now holding up the walls of the Ministry of Justice’s new $40 million Manukau District Court building.

Mitre 10 has been selling Drymix cement that comes from the very same Vietnamese Vicem Bim Som factory that  supplied the cement to Drymix that failed to meet recognised industry standards.

Now to be fair to Mitre 10, we are mainly talking about cement imported by Drymix in January, February and March 2014, that had a higher than accepted alkali content.

But there are fears the problems go back further when, in September 2013, Drymix’s own test results showed alkali content was above the industry accepted standard of 0.60%.

Whaleoil asked Mitre 10 if it was aware that it may have been selling cement to Kiwi consumers from a manufactuer in Vietnam that supplied cement containing high alkali levels above industry standards.

Further, we asked Mitre 10 how confident it was that the cement it sold between October 2013 and March 2014 from this supplier did not have higher than accepted alkali content.

Despite Mitre 10 saying that “social media is clearly a big part of Mitre 10’s future”, it’s now been 48 hours and counting for them to get back to Whaleoil media enquiries over two relatively straight forward questions;

  1. Did Mitre 10 sell Drymix Portland Cement made in Vietnam by Vicem Bim Som for Drymix over the October 2013 to March 2014 period?
  2. If so, how confident is Mitre 10 that the cement it sold over the period October 2013 to March 2014, that came from this supplier, did not have higher than accepted alkali content?

Maybe they should take a look and see how circling the wagons around Drymix is working out for Rob Gaimster from the Cement and Concrete Association of NZ.



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  • Alfred

    Bit embarrassing for Mitre 10 to be caught up in this mess.

    • Rod

      Will be a lot more embarrassing if they don’t front-foot the issue, and soon.

      • jac

        Interesting, a couple of years ago I poured footings for a 4 post hoist, used old 40 kg bags for first two & bought a few of these Mitre 10 example fro the last two, bolted the posts onto them and about three weeks later the first two fell over, concrete crumbled away to nothing strength wise, thought I had stuffed up, still have not redone these ones, first two are solid as a rock. Back to placemakers for some good stuff, just another summer job to do.

  • Dave

    I have previously had dealings with M10 as a supplier to them, they were very professional and great to deal with, and they are normally on to this kind of thing. For them not to acknowledge the request, let alone respond is telling. As a nationwide network of mainly Franchised operators, perhaps those Franchise operators need to ASK M10 head office about DRIMIX, and also seek assurances alone these lines.

    1) What research did M10 Group office do on Drimix Quality prior to telling the M10 network to stock it.
    2) What ongoing QC or QC reports did M10 Group office receive from Drimix on the suitability and quality of their products.
    3) Where does any liability sit, as the franchises likely sold the product under specific directions from M10 group support office, ie, M10 head office / group support would have held the supply contract.
    4) When will M10 Head office / group support office respond to WOBH

    Collectively, the franchise holders in M10 hold a lot of sway, and will be getting a bit tetchy over this, they should be able to “smell” potential damage a mile away. I can almost guarantee some senior execs in M10 head office are getting some heat about now.

    NB: it is highly likely the goods were charged via M10 head office, and not direct to any franchisees by Drimix, leaving M10 group somewhat exposed.

  • It’s time we get a complete list of projects where this cement was used.

    This could be worse than the Leaky Building problem.

    • alphabrick

      Wow, this level of fear mongering is unprecedented. Seriously!?!

    • Stuart

      I’ve worked in the insurance business for 20 years. About 5 years ago I was discussing the leaky building problem with a friend who works in the construction sector. His comment was that if you think leaky buildings is bad, wait for concrete cancer to start hitting the headlines. 5 years ago……

      • If this was suspected there was a real problem developing 5 years ago would have thought there would be more information out there by now, would be difficult to cover up something like this for very long, not knowing how many sources there are or where the info is coming from it does sound a bit like someone has a beef with drymix.

        • Stuart

          Yes it was just hearsay but I distinctly remember the phrase ‘concrete cancer’.
          It took at many years for leaky buildings to start leaking.
          Who knows how long this ‘cancer’ takes to manifest?

  • Richard

    Does Mitre Ten, or has Mitre Ten ever supplied this cement to ready mix plants for bulk batching, to be used in structural elements of buildings?

    From my experience the 40kg bags of cement bought from suppliers like Mitre Ten are typically used for hand mixing jobs such as paths, driveways, mowing strips etc, where the structural integrity of the finished concrete is neither here nor there in terms of risk to life from failure.

    • You forgot deck footings etc…a 3m off the ground deck collapsing when the Christmas bbq comes around wouldn’t be that much fun

      • Richard

        The “just add water” range of bagged concrete is only rated at 10mpa and is specifically stated as not for use in structural applications like footings/post footings. These products are only meant for projects such as fence posts,mowing strips, paths, edging etc.