Wiggins Island Coal Terminal, Australia

Aurecon designed a groundbreaking facility allowing for continued growth and prosperity of mines in the Gladstone area

Queensland is the world’s largest exporter of coal by sea and plays a critical role in supplying developing nations with coal for steel used in building and for energy security. When existing export facilities in Gladstone came near to capacity in 2005, planning began for the ambitious development of Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET), with stage one completed in 2015. 

Aurecon designed a groundbreaking facility that allowed for the continued growth and prosperity of mines in the Gladstone area by providing greater export capacity.

It’s probably fair to say that there’s no bigger jewel in this new development’s crown than the massive articulated gantry stacker. More than 35 metres tall, wider than Queensland’s Suncorp Stadium and capable of stacking coal unloaded from 100 train wagons in just a single hour, this incredible machine is the only one of its kind in the world. 

Observing the gantry at work is mesmerising. Like watching a 3D printer methodically traversing a vast area, building precisely measured stockpiles as it goes, this towering example of bespoke engineering excellence is both fast and efficient.

Innovation in design was key to the overall facility construction. Capitalising on the port’s relatively sheltered conditions, use of a modular construction strategy meant that on-site installation effort was greatly reduced. And, because the shiploader design focused on the best possible reduction in size and weight without compromising on loading rates, the outstanding result is a machine which can shift a mighty 8 500 tonnes per hour. 

3D modelling was the central pillar from design into construction. By leveraging this to create a fly-through video, designs could be easily understood by owners and key stakeholders such as Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, Department of Transport and Main Roads and environmental agencies. 

The innovation that made this project successful stemmed from collaboration. This included the client’s team co-located in the design office, drawing on expertise from Aurecon across different geographies and valuable input from the operators. 

The community in Gladstone also benefited from WICET (together with Gladstone Port Corporation) contributing AUD 35 million in funding and resources to a major revitalisation of its East Shore area. Now the entire community can enjoy world class recreational waterfront facilities, including an innovative water play park, a stunning promenade, beautiful boardwalks and an abundance of green open spaces. The project also set new standards in limiting coal dust emissions to address local health and environmental concerns.

Without doubt, WICET is an innovative engineering solution that has not only revolutionised the port’s operations, but is one which will serve the industry’s needs well for decades to come and contribute positively to the Queensland and Australian economy into the future.

The engineering, planning and environmental services for this project were delivered by Aurecon in joint venture with Hatch.

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