An industry-first initiative to construct 140 ‘flat pack’ iron ore cars over the next four years in Perth, Western Australia, will develop capability and boost the state’s manufacturing sector, through a collaboration between BHP, UGL, QRRS and supported by the State Government, BHP says.
In an initial trial, BHP has shipped ore car components from QRRS’s factory in China to UGL’s Bassendean facility as ‘flat packs’, where the UGL team has assembled, welded and commissioned the cars before delivering them to BHP’s Pilbara operations.
For over a decade, iron ore cars have traditionally been built offshore. On average, BHP orders several hundred each year.
To date, five iron ore cars have been completed and delivered to the Pilbara. A further 15 are due to be built and delivered by February 2023. At least 12 UGL jobs have been sustained through the project, according to BHP.
Following the trial’s early success, BHP has committed to constructing an additional 120 cars over the next four years in Western Australia.
BHP says it is continuing to build local content through manufacturing and maintenance opportunities to ensure the local ore car supply chain is sustainable and competitive.
BHP’s Asset President WA Iron Ore, Brandon Craig, said: “BHP makes a significant contribution to the WA economy, and we want to keep building and strengthening that contribution through more local manufacturing.
“We are taking the first important step by working together with the expert teams at UGL and QRRS to build ore cars right here in WA.
“Through this investment, we will support the WA manufacturing sector to strengthen its capability and create new opportunities for business growth and local employment.
“This is a terrific initiative that we’ve been able to develop with our partners and the West Australian Government, and we thank them for their support.”
Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan MLA, said: “This project is a testament to the work of our Iron Ore Railcar Wagons Manufacturing and Maintenance Action Group, which is committed to boosting local manufacturing and securing local jobs.”
Doug Moss, UGL Managing Director, said: “We are proud to be the only Australian manufacturer of freight locomotives and we’re pleased to extend this capability through the re-introduction of rail ore car assembly into Australia, and particularly in Western Australia.
“We look forward to continuing this program with BHP and creating a strong and sustainable ore car assembly capability in the state.”
UGL is CIMIC Group’s specialist end-to-end engineering and services provider.
Zhang Quanyong, QRRS Managing Director, said: “As a long-term supplier of BHP, QRRS will continue to support all projects that BHP is involved in. We are pleased to take this partnership further and supply more good products and service to BHP.”