Tag Archives: Mark McGowan

WesTrac’s Collie technology training centre to welcome new trainees next month

The WesTrac Technology Training Centre in Collie, Western Australia, is close to completion and due to accept its first trainees within weeks, the Cat dealer says.

The facility, which is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, will deliver training courses to technicians and operators of autonomous equipment such as haul trucks used in the mining industry, according to WesTrac.

Announced in January this year and partially funded through the Western Australia Government’s Collie Futures Fund, the site near Bluewaters power station includes dedicated training facilities and an extensive “calibration pad” used for trialling and fine-tuning autonomous equipment, it said.

Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan, was onsite today (June 29, 2020) to inspect progress, along with Regional Development Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, Collie-Preston MLA, Mick Murray, and WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome.

McGowan said the training centre was one of a range of new initiatives designed to secure the future of the town.

“It’s great to be here in Collie to view first-hand the progress on this facility, which is going to put Collie on the map for training technicians and operators of autonomous equipment,” he said.

“The WesTrac Technology Training Centre will result in new jobs and training opportunities for local people. At the same time, it will meet demand from around Australia and overseas from resource companies that need specialised technicians and operators of autonomous equipment to support the growth in this technology.”

Croome said earthworks and construction at the site had progressed rapidly since it was announced in January and WesTrac was preparing to accept its first intake of trainees in the coming weeks.

“We are in the final testing phase at present and plan to commence the first official eight-day training course with internal WesTrac team members in early July, followed by courses for a range of mining operators later in the month,” Croome said.

“As the only such facility outside the USA that can provide dedicated training for autonomous operations of Caterpillar equipment, we anticipate strong demand for training over the next three years as resources companies transition their fleets.”

Initially, the focus will be on conversion of existing haul trucks to operate autonomously, with additional courses to be rolled out in line with industry demand, Croome said.

Trainees will be accommodated at the nearby Collie Hills Village while undertaking courses and are expected to boost opportunities for local businesses during their time in the town.

Croome said WesTrac had been working with local businesses to supply goods and services, and expected job opportunities to grow in the future.

WesTrac building Caterpillar autonomous training facility in Western Australia

Caterpillar dealer WesTrac has announced it will build a technology training facility in Collie, Western Australia, focused on providing courses in autonomous operations.

The centre will be the only Caterpillar Autonomous Training Facility in the world apart from Cat’s own testing and training ground in Arizona, USA. The facility will be developed on land owned by Bluewaters Farm Holdings in Collie’s Coolangatta Industrial Estate.

The project is supported by a grant through the Collie Futures Fund, awarded to WesTrac by the State Government’s Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

The announcement was made at a ground-turning event in Collie attended by Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan; Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan; Collie-Preston MLA, Mick Murray; and WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome.

Croome said the investment includes a new fully autonomous Cat 789D off-highway truck, construction of an autonomous operations zone and training room facilities. The construction is scheduled to commence this month at the greenfield site near Collie’s Bluewaters Power Station.

Local contractor Piacentini & Son will carry out the earthworks and installation of key infrastructure, with training scheduled to commence in May.

“The initial focus will be to provide training in fit-out and maintenance requirements for the conversion and operation of existing Caterpillar haulage vehicles,” Croome said.

“Over time, we anticipate expanding the range of courses on offer to ensure the facility caters for the recognised skills of the future that will be in demand as the resource sector evolves.

“It’s an opportunity to position Collie and Western Australia as a world leader in advanced technology and skills development in automation and autonomous operations.”

McGowan said: “People will come from all over the world to utilise this facility – the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the second worldwide for Caterpillar.”

While WesTrac had evaluated several potential locations, Collie was the ideal centre for the training facility, according to Croome.

“The town has a long mining history and an experienced workforce with the potential to help run and develop the training facility over time,” he said.

“There’s also a vibrant community and plenty of supporting business infrastructure, plus a unique range of natural attractions and easy access to the wider South West region, which adds appeal for Australian and international training participants.”

Croome said WesTrac and Caterpillar clients across the Asia Pacific region had shown significant interest in having access to such training and strong demand was expected when the facility commenced operations.

WA government, EPA approves BHP’s strategic 50- to 100-year Pilbara mining plan

The Western Australia Government has approved a 50- to 100-year strategic mining proposal for the Pilbara by BHP, which outlines bold plans for new and existing mines, the state said.

BHP’s Pilbara Expansion Strategic Proposal details a cumulative picture of the miner’s planned and potential operations across the Pilbara, including mining operations, rail, storage areas, dams and associated mine infrastructure.

It mentioned new potential mining operations at Caramulla, Coondiner, Gurinbiddy, Jinidi, Marillana, Mindy, Ministers North, Mudlark, Munjina/Upper Marillana, Ophthalmia/Prairie Down, Rocklea, Roy Hill and Tandanya; alongside future expansions of existing mining operations at Jimblebar, Mining Area C, Newman and Yandi (pictured).

This type of “strategic proposal”, which the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved with conditions, “helps reduce red and green tape, allowing the EPA to consider the cumulative impacts of future proposals, rather than assessing impacts on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed”, according to the government.

The EPA assessed the impacts to flora and vegetation, fauna, water quality and quantity, air quality as well as social surrounds, with the ministerial statement for BHP’s strategic proposal including conditions that may be applied to each development, including environmental management plans, a cultural heritage management plan, a mine closure plan and offsets through contributions to the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund where significant residual impacts remain.

“BHP is required to refer future individual proposals outlined in the ministerial statement to the EPA to determine if they meet the high environmental standards set by the strategic assessment,” the government said.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said BHP’s plan has the potential to deliver tens of thousands of jobs for Western Australians.

“We expect this Australian-first plan will reduce environmental approval times by up to 50%, while maintaining the highest environmental standards,” he said.

“Industry has been crying out for this type of plan. It recognises the need to reduce unnecessary ‘green tape’ to increase investor confidence, and pave the way for more jobs. It is another sign our economy is improving with the major miner taking a long-term view of its proposals in the state.”

Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, meanwhile, said: “The Pilbara region holds immense environmental value and a key focus of the EPA assessment was to ensure the proposal did not significantly impact on important regional environmental values, including Karijini National Park and Fortescue Marsh.

“Strategic proposals allow the EPA to take a bigger picture view of the potential environmental impacts the proposals may have, considering the cumulative impacts rather than on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed.”

Fortescue breaks ground at $1.275 billion Eliwana iron ore development

Fortescue Metals Group says it has officially broken ground on the Eliwana iron ore mine and rail project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

FMG Founder and Chairman, Andrew Forrest, was today joined by Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia, FMG CEO, Elizabeth Gaines, and the company’s core leadership team, for the official sod turning.

The $1.275 billion project includes the construction of 143 km of rail, a new 30 Mt/y dry ore processing facility (OPF) and infrastructure. First ore on train is expected in December 2020, the company says.

FMG says contracts to the value of A$330 million ($232 million) to date have been awarded to more than 250 Australian business entities as part of the Eliwana development, of which 80% are Western Australia-owned businesses. As further approvals are progressed, it is expected over A$500 million in additional contracts will be awarded by the end of 2019, FMG said.

Contract recipients include BGC Contracting for bulk earthworks and roads, NRW Holdings, also for bulk earthworks, and SIMPEC for electrical, communications and dry fire systems testing.

“Eliwana underpins the sustainable production of West Pilbara Fines and provides the flexibility for Fortescue to deliver products at greater than 60% Fe grade,” FMG said. “The development will utilise the latest technology, autonomous trucks and design efficiency, further cementing Fortescue’s world leading use of innovation across its mining operations.”

Forrest said: “This is a proud day for Fortescue as we celebrate the largest project since the Kings Valley mine in 2014.

“Since Fortescue was founded 16 years ago, we have held community and family at our core and continued to deliver on our commitment to be the safest, lowest cost company. Eliwana is the next great step into the Western Hub, enhancing our profitability and extending our mine life.”

The project will generate up to 1,900 jobs during construction and 500 full-time site positions once operational, according to Forrest.

Gaines said: “The Eliwana project will build on Fortescue’s unparalleled track record and capability in safely developing and operating major iron ore projects in the Pilbara. Eliwana is core to the next phase of development in Fortescue’s world class, innovative operations. The project will see us maintain our low-cost status, provide us with greater flexibility to deliver on our integrated operations and marketing strategy and, when combined with the Iron Bridge Magnetite development, it will increase Fortescue’s average product grade and provide the ability to deliver the majority of our products at greater than 60% Fe, consistent with our long term goal.”