Building one of Mining's Leading Ports - Roy Hill in the Pilbara
Previously posted on Austmine.com.au
With tighter cost control on major port and marine projects, contractors are required to do more with less, which can be a tough ask when balancing project requirements against desired outcomes.
That is why design and maintenance considerations are more important than ever for cost reduction and increased efficiency. Whether it’s new-build developments or repair and maintenance initiatives, specific applications need to be strategically addressed and implemented.
Neville Kidd, Engineering Manager at McConnell Dowell, is involved in constructing the last two berths for Roy Hill’s port in the Pilbara region in Western Australia. He says that there is a shift from engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) methods to design-build applications.
“We’re seeing a subtle but gradual trend among marine asset owners, where, in an effort to more tightly control cost, demand is shying away from EPCM and shifting back towards design and construct. And material selection for design and construct projects has been dominated by structural capacity and ease of construction, ahead of durability,” he says.
In design-build projects of any scale for marine structures, asset owners need to have a thorough and objective assessment of the individual program characteristics. This paves the way for early engagement with both the designer and contractor, which will ensure that the contractor isn't hindered by re-design requirements from consultants during construction.
Part of the marine package for Roy Hill involves almost four kilometers of an overland conveyor, which is an elevated structure with its own service road – it can be compared to the features of a viaduct. The shiploader system is being supplied separately, but once it is on the wharf, it will become McConnell Dowell’s responsibility.
To enable this elevation, a pair of travelers has been employed – a piling frame system that cantilevers out with the crane for the next pile bent.
As it moves on to the next pile structure, it installs the road and conveyor module behind it. The secret to this application is not just the cantilever or the dual-traveller system, but efficient material delivery to the application.
“All access to the work fronts has to be along the newly constructed “viaducts” so all piles, headstocks, road deck units, conveyor galleries, miscellaneous plant, materials, consumables and personnel are transported along the elevated road. This way they’ll arrive at the work front only when needed and without delaying any other activities,” Neville explains.
Efficient design approval processes have played a key role in this development, due to increased collaboration with designers, managers and owners. But an interesting dynamic of the Port Hedland marine berth projects has been employment of three different design consultants over the course of the various projects, which has greatly influenced new improvements over previous designs.
Port and marine structure projects can be intense undertakings for asset owners. Early engagement with contractors in the design stage is crucial from a risk management perspective, as it will prevent obstacles that are counter-productive to delivery timeframes for construction.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.