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Making the difference with pit-to-port infrastructure and materials handling

Ross Nugent

Ross Nugent

24 January 2012 - Engineering, management and specialist technical services group Aurecon will showcase at their stand how effective, integrated pit-to-port material handling solutions can make a measurable difference to mining projects at the annual 2012 Mining Indaba, which will be held in February at the Cape Town Convention Centre in South Africa.

Aurecon has extensive expertise across Africa and Australia in engineering, procurement and construction management of bulk material handling projects including mine, rail, seaboard import and export terminals, and associated port and marine works facilities.

Africa Down Under Conference 2011

Aurecon’s attendance at 2012 Mining Indaba follows its involvement in the 2011 Africa Down Under Conference in Perth, Australia in September 2011 which was attended by several African mines ministers, business leaders and executives from the mining services industries. Aurecon spoke about how its resources specialists are gearing up to meet massive expected demand for resources mining infrastructure and transportation across continents.

Aurecon is ranked 42nd in ENR’s global list of top 150 consultant firms. The group is heavily involved in delivering the engineering and technical design and project management skills needed for the development of the African mining industry.

“Through our strategic studies, we are delivering logistics planning for bulk material handling from mines to ports, we are also designing infrastructure for mines, collaborating on major project management and assisting major mining companies to gain mining approvals,” said Ross Nugent, Resources Leader, Aurecon.

“Increasingly we are ramping up our ability to resource major projects by transferring our skilled experience from mining in remote locations in Australia to meet the market demand in Africa, while our skilled workforce across Africa is servicing several of our Australian projects,” he added.

With major miners forecasting global iron ore production growth needing to hit approximately 100 million tonnes per annum over the next eight years*, African nations will increasingly be called upon to meet demand in growth.

Aurecon’s CEO Paul Hardy believes that Aurecon is uniquely placed in being able to support investment and growth in the African mining industry. “Our African business ‘DNA’ means that we understand the complex nature of developing the continent’s mining resources,” said Mr Hardy. 

“With around 3 000 people in our African offices, we work closely with governments and private industry to deliver projects and support planned economic development that deliver benefits to people across the continent,” he added.

Award winning bulk material handling expertise

An excellent example of the effective application of Aurecon’s bulk handling expertise is the AUD X50 expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, which was named Bulk Materials Handling Facility of the Year 2011 by the Australian Bulk Handling Review. This project was also named ‘Project of the Year’ at the Consult Australia Awards for Excellence ceremony in December 2011.

The expansion of the coal terminal to 50 Mtpa transformed the port precinct into one of global importance and is the largest port development project ever undertaken by a Port Authority in Queensland.

North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP), the port owner, commissioned Aurecon, in joint venture with Hatch, to complete all engineering design and tender procurement for the project.  Aurecon Hatch also provided technical assistance and construction supervision as part of an integrated Owner’s/engineer project management team and prepared and commissioned all control systems software. 

The expansion was a complex undertaking, comprising both onshore and offshore facilities and essentially duplicating the entire terminal and upgrading of much of the existing terminal, which had to be completed whilst maintaining the existing plant operation. 

Challenging conditions, including record breaking wet seasons and severe labour shortages and spiralling material costs were overcome with high quality, functional and economic design and experienced project management, ensuring the project was completed within budget and on schedule.

Mr Brad Fish, NQBP’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Despite the fast track delivery schedule we requested, and the volatility of the construction industry at the time, the exceptional commitment of the Aurecon Hatch design team, together with the contracting strategy adopted, ensured that almost AUD million of construction contracts were awarded within just 11 months. Our close working relationship with the Aurecon Hatch team ensured the X50 expansion was completed to a high quality, within budget and essentially on schedule."

Safety was a high priority on the project and a pleasing outcome was that on two occasions more than 1 000 000 man hours were worked without a single lost time injury (LTI). The site borders one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive regions, the Great Barrier Marine Park, as well as biodiverse wetlands. The design included many features that are world’s best practice for the minimisation of environmental impacts, such as smart control of water sprays to minimise water usage.

*David Joyce, managing director of Rio Tinto Iron Ore expansion projects speaking at Africa Down Under Conference 2011.

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