Tag Archives: Pilbara

NRW’s METS business takes flight with Primero’s latest contract awards

The first build own operate (BOO) contract initiatives, and the first major engineering, procurement, site support and commissioning contract in West Africa are some of the highlights from Primero Group’s latest contract awards.

The company, acquired by NRW Holdings earlier this year, has recently been awarded new contracts totalling circa-A$155 million ($114 million) with key clients. It has also progressed strategic initiatives that provide further strength to the group offering within the newly formed Minerals, Energy and Technology (METS) business under the NRW Holdings banner, NRW said. RCR Mining Technologies and DIAB Engineering also feature under the METS business.

“These include the award of the group’s BOO contract initiatives crystalising the strategic direction deployed by the group to enter the market of ownership and operation of processing infrastructure,” it said. “The equipment is designed, fabricated and constructed internally utilising the METS division companies and focuses on enabling the infrastructure to be relocatable, in alignment with other material handling products already being offered by the group.”

Primero has been awarded two key contracts with Mt Gibson Iron. The first is for the upgrade of the Koolan Island crushing circuit under an engineering and construction contract off the coast of Western Australia. The second is a two-year fixed crushing contract at the Shine development project in the Mid-West region of Western Australia under a BOO arrangement, with an option to extend.

Also, in the iron ore space and Western Australia, Primero has been awarded a four-year contract for crushing services at Atlas Iron’s proposed Miralga Creek operation in the Pilbara region. The contract provides crushing services for 2 Mt/y under a BOO scenario and will commence in early 2022.

In West Africa, meanwhile, Primero has secured its first major engineering, procurement, site support and commissioning contract for the Abujar gold project in Côte d’Ivoire, owned by Tietto Minerals. “The project award demonstrates the groups continuing growth and maturity in minerals processing engineering execution and diversity in capability across multiple commodities in the group,” NRW said.

The project is at a 3.5 Mt/y throughput scale with most of the contract revenue to be recognised in NRW’s 2022 financial year.

Back in Western Australia, meanwhile, Primero has been awarded the Mt Holland water supply pipeline construction contract from Covalent Lithium. The project follows on from the design services that Primero was awarded in October 2020 and completed including detailed construction planning and methodology for the 130 km pipeline and associated pumping facilities.

Site construction works have commenced, and the project is scheduled for completion in the March quarter of 2022.

As an updated note, Primero confirms the previously announced letter of intent with Panoramic Resources for the contract operations of the Savannah Nickel project has been finalised into a binding contract with a term of three years, as per Panoramic announcement dated April 6, 2021.

Work has already commenced in the preparation and operational readiness for the recommencement of the concentrator operations in-line with the announced restart plan of the mine in the September quarter with first shipments planned in December.

NRW CEO, Jules Pemberton, said: “The ongoing development of the METS pillar of the NRW Holdings Group is continuing to provide further success and market penetration within key client groups in our sector. Primero, as the newest addition to that group, has added significant capability and these recent contract awards showcase the diversity, capability and the expanding capacity of the group across multiple commodities and services.”

SIMPEC to construct wet process plant at Iron Bridge magnetite project

SIMPEC has been awarded a A$145 million ($107 million) contract for the construction of a wet process plant for the Iron Bridge magnetite project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The WestStar Industrial subsidiary has been contracted by Iron Bridge Operations Pty Ltd, a company representing the joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd and Formosa Steel IB Pty Ltd.

The wet processing plant is a significant part of the new magnetite mine at Iron Bridge, which will be central to the production of 22 Mt/y (wet) of 67% Fe magnetite concentrate product.

SIMPEC is to supply vertical construction services for the contract, with an anticipated workforce of more than 500 personnel. The contract is expected to commence immediately with works due to be completed by the middle of 2022.

SIMPEC’s part of the project consists of major module installation, tank installation, major mechanical installation, large bore piping and a significant portion of supply and installation of electrical and instrumentation works.

Fortescue, in its June quarter results, released today, said the Iron Bridge project was expecting first production by December 2022 and a ramp-up period of 12-18 months before reaching capacity.

WesTrac to rebuild Rio’s Pilbara dozers at Geraldton facility

Rio Tinto, WesTrac and the Western Australia Government have agreed on a project that will see dozers from Rio’s Pilbara operations head to WesTrac’s Geraldton facility for rebuilds, with up to 54 machines committed between 2021 and 2025.

Western Australia Regional Development Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, welcomed the news, saying it would provide a major boost for the Mid-West’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

The project was negotiated between the State Government through the Mid West Development Commission and industry after feasibility studies identified WesTrac’s Perth and Pilbara facilities were at capacity and unable to accommodate the additional repairs and maintenance required by Rio’s mining operations.

The Geraldton facility will receive up to 12 dozer rebuilds annually, from various Pilbara operations, according to the statement.

The project will support two new, localised apprenticeship opportunities in the Mid-West as well as creating new local skilled jobs and providing pathways to employment with Rio Tinto, the government said. The project also reduces transport times and negates logistical difficulties mining companies face getting heavy machinery in and out of the metropolitan area.

“The state will look to expand the initiative into a cross-regional Smart Specialisation project with linkages to the Kimberley and Goldfields regions, using the Mid-West as a demonstration pilot,” it added.

MacTiernan said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will see more work carried out in our regional centres, rather than shifting to Perth. It confirms that geography is not a barrier to global success for our regionally-based METS facilities, but in fact an advantage.”

Rio Tinto Port, Rail and Core Services Managing Director, Richard Cohen, said: “Rio Tinto is committed to growing regional Western Australia by supporting jobs and training opportunities for local people. Regional investment initiatives like the METS project will deliver ongoing benefits to the local economy.

“By unlocking the capabilities of the Geraldton WesTrac branch, we are significantly reducing transport time by removing the roughly 900-km round trip to Perth. This will lower costs, improve productivity and reduce the risk of driving related incidents that can occur on congested metropolitan roads.”

WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome, said the company was committed to developing capacity and capability throughout the state.

“Like many providers in the METS sector, WesTrac is seeing strong demand across all areas of our business due to the level of mining and construction activity,” he said. “That applies to new and used equipment sales, training, maintenance services and equipment rebuilds, and if there are opportunities to expand our offerings in regional centres and provide efficient outcomes for our customers, we’ll happily consider them.”

As well as multiple metropolitan operations, WesTrac currently has branches in eight regional centres including the major Western Australia mining regions. The company also operates as the authorised dealer of Caterpillar equipment in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

NRW Holdings to deliver solar power solution for Rio’s Gudai Darri

NRW Holdings has secured two new contracts from Rio Tinto, one of which will see it enter the renewable energy fold with an agreement to deliver a 34 MW solar photovoltaic system at the Gudai Darri mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

This contract is part of Rio Tinto’s commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations with a stated target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, NRW said, adding that the contract value is approximately A$60 million ($44 million).

The scope of work for the solar farm includes design, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of all equipment including a 33 kV substation to be integrated into the overall Rio Tinto Iron Ore infrastructure, including remote control and monitoring via the Rio Tinto Iron Ore Remote Operation Centre.

The solar farm will be connected to the Rio Tinto grid at the Gudai Darri Central Substation via a 6-km long overhead powerline and fibre-optic link, which is not included in the NRW scope.

Design and procurement will commence immediately followed by commencement of construction in August 2021. Construction and commissioning are scheduled for completion in early 2022, it said.

Jules Pemberton, NRW’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, said: “Securing this work recognises the broader delivery capability of the business and NRW’s long-standing experience of delivering projects for Rio Tinto in the Pilbara. Renewable energy represents an increasing opportunity for the group in particular captive projects like this where the energy output is integrated to the client’s network.”

Alongside this announcement, NRW said it had been awarded the Stage 3 Expansion Works at the Nammuldi Waste Fines Storage (WFSF) facility. The works to be undertaken for this project are the Stage 3 expansion to the existing WFSF for Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd, a Rio subsidiary that manages the joint venture Nammuldi operation (53% owned by Rio, 33% owned by Mitsui Iron Ore Development, 10.5% owned by Nippon Steel Australia and 3.5% owned by Sumitomo Metal Australia), at the Nammuldi Below Water Table (NBWT) project.

The site is around 60 km northwest of Tom Price, with the WFSF Stage 3 expansion consisting of raising the existing earth fill embankment by a further 6 m using the downstream method with associated earthworks along with mechanical upgrades to water management structures, waste fines deposition lines and pond decant infrastructure.

The expansion works to be undertaken will achieve the ultimate limit currently permitted for the WFSF, NRW said.

Construction works will start in mid-August 2021 with all works complete in June 2022. A work force of about 75 personnel will be engaged on the project which has a contract value of circa-A$26.5 million.

Fortescue hits new automation milestone in the Pilbara

Fortescue Metals Group’s autonomous haulage (AHS) fleet has marked a significant milestone, moving two billion tonnes of material, doubling the amount hauled since reaching the one billion tonne milestone in September 2019.

In 2012, Fortescue was the first in the world to deploy Caterpillar’s AHS technology on a commercial scale at its Solomon Hub operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia and the multi-class fleet has since expanded across the company’s operations with a total of 193 autonomous trucks now in operation.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue is a leader in the implementation of autonomous haulage across our iron ore operations. Our fleet represents one of the largest in the world, with 79 trucks currently in operation at Solomon, 74 at Christmas Creek and 40 at Cloudbreak. Moving over two billion tonnes of material without a driver at the wheel is a significant milestone and a reflection of Fortescue’s ongoing commitment to increasing operational efficiency through technology and innovation.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has led to significant safety improvements for our team members, with our fleet safely travelling over 70 million kilometres to date – the equivalent of 91 return trips to the moon.”

The continued expansion of autonomous capability across the business has demonstrated that autonomy doesn’t need to be at the expense of jobs, with the transition to autonomous haulage providing significant new opportunities for Fortescue’s workforce through the provision of training and redeployment to new roles, Fortescue said.

Gaines added: “Significantly, the adoption of autonomous haulage has allowed us to relocate many traditional site-based roles to our integrated operations centre in Perth, providing opportunities for parents and women in particular to remain engaged in our workforce. Today, almost 50% of our workforce in the Fortescue Hive are women.”

Warraikal to provide maintenance and shutdown services to Fortescue’s Pilbara ops

Following a competitive tender process, Warrikal Pty Ltd, has been awarded a five-year A$350 million ($263 million) contract as one of the providers of maintenance and shutdown services across Fortescue’s Pilbara operations.

Founded by Koori businesswoman, Amanda Healy, and her business partners, Roy Messer and David Flett, Warrikal was established in 2017 to provide innovative engineering solutions across the mining, marine and resource sectors. The company has been providing mechanical maintenance, shutdown and project services across Fortescue’s sites over the last three years.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue is committed to supporting sustainable long-term opportunities for Aboriginal businesses. Procurement is one of the most powerful levers for social and economic change, and from experience we know that a strong Aboriginal business sector is best placed to create employment and development opportunities for their communities.

“I am pleased to announce this significant contract with Warrikal, the largest to be awarded by Fortescue and also among the biggest contracts to be awarded in Australia to a majority-owned Aboriginal business.”

Warrikal Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Healy, said the contract built on the company’s longstanding relationship with Fortescue.

“We look forward to further developing our relationship over coming years, continuing to grow our operational footprint in the northwest of Western Australia and strengthening our long-term commitment to the region and the communities in which we operate.

“The award of this contract and the continual business growth is a testament to our amazing personnel and our reputation for delivering ‘Innovative Engineering Solutions’ across multiple disciplines, whilst maintaining a high standard of safety and quality as a true reflection of each and every Warrikal team member.”

Fortescue’s Billion Opportunities program was established in 2011 as part of the company’s commitment to deliver business development opportunities for Aboriginal people with a strong focus on Traditional Custodian involvement. Since its inception, the program has awarded over A$3 billion in contracts to Aboriginal businesses and joint ventures.

Fortescue backs Pilbara mine site rehabilitation CRC project

The Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), along with partners Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue), University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University (Curtin), have announced a new project focusing on increasing plant nutrients in iron ore waste, enabling improved mine site rehabilitation in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The 12-month project is centred around the Fortescue’s Chichester Hub mine site and includes experimental glasshouse-based and laboratory testing undertaken at UWA, along with microbiology expertise from Curtin.

“The Pilbara region has a very thin layer of top soil which is essential for plant growth and is disrupted through mining,” CRC TiME said. “This project will formulate a process to increase plant available nutrient levels, specifically nitrogen for this study, in mineral waste (waste rock and tailings) and stockpiled soils (subsoils and topsoil) using novel plant-microbe systems, to improve the rehabilitation post-mining.”

Kirsty Beckett, Principal of Mine Closure at Fortescue, said: “This project is addressing a critical issue for the mining industry as available topsoil is a key limiting factor in the rehabilitation of large tracts of mining affected land. These areas can cover up to half of some of the Fortescue’s mine sites.”

CRC TiME CEO, Dr Guy Boggs, added: “Post-mining landscapes require the establishment of self-sustaining ecosystems over heavily altered landscapes constructed from mineral waste. Effectively and efficiently converting these landscapes into self-sustaining ecosystems delivers both environmental and financial benefits and provides more certainty on ecosystem resilience.”

CRC TiME receives grant funding from the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program.

BCI Minerals signs up WHBO Infrastructure, Engenium for Mardie work

BCI Minerals Limited has confirmed around A$90 million ($68 million) of contract awards for its Mardie Salt & Potash project, in Western Australia, ahead of a final investment decision (FID).

The initial earthworks contract has been awarded to WBHO Infrastructure, a contractor with a long history of project delivery excellence in large civil construction projects and a strong presence in Western Australia.

The contract includes initial construction of the large-scale trial pond scheduled to commence in April, as well as construction of evaporation ponds 1 and 2, on terms aligned with definitive feasibility study (DFS) budget assumptions once the FID is achieved and required tenure and approvals are in place. The total earthworks volume in this scope is approximately 800,000 cu.m over an area of 24 sq.km.

Engenium, the successful tenderer for the Project Management Contractor role, is a Western Australian company with offices in Perth and Karratha. Engenium, which recently signed a letter of intent that could see it acquired by Stantec, was selected for its local and experienced team, proven track record in project delivery and construction management, excellent health and safety record and pricing within the DFS budget, BCI said.

“The PMC is an important contract in the overall execution of the Mardie project which will see Engenium manage the construction program through the provision of people and systems as an extension of the BCI owners’ team,” it said. “Engagement of Engenium on a staged basis will also support BCI to achieve construction-ready status ahead of main construction commencing in the second half of 2021.”

Various smaller contracts covering accommodation village expansion, minor earthworks, site surveys, communications, water supply, fuel storage and supply as well as the Karratha office fit-out have also been awarded this year. These works are all underway with Pilbara-based contractors expanding Mardie village and fitting-out the Karratha office and local indigenous companies carrying out aboriginal heritage surveys and minor earthworks.

BCI’s Managing Director, Alwyn Vorster, said: “The award of the initial earthworks contract, in particular, represents a key milestone in BCI’s progress toward main construction and demonstrates board confidence in Mardie’s development pathway. These contracts will be initially funded from BCI’s healthy cash balance and strong Iron Valley royalty income.”

The Mardie DFS outcomes indicated that the production of 4.4 Mt/y of high purity salt and 120,000 t/y of premium sulphate of potash (SOP) fertiliser was technically and financially viable. The total capital cost came in at A$779 million and the pre-tax net present value (7% discount) was A$1.197 billion.

A FID by the BCI Board is targeted in the June quarter, which will be followed by completion of the funding task. Construction could commence in mid-2021, which will allow for first salt sales in 2024 and first SOP sales in 2025, the company says.

Alliance Aviation wins two-year contract extension from BHP

Alliance Aviation Services has announced an extension of the air charter services agreement with BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division for a further two years.

This extension, Alliance says, is further evidence of Alliance’s reputation of outstanding customer retention with the extension solidifying the relationship that started with the first flight for BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division in 2009.

BHP WAIO is an integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines connected by more than 1,000 km of rail infrastructure and port facilities in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.

Lee Schofield, Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Alliance is delighted to be continuing the provision of these charter services into the Pilbara. Our commitment to safety and providing our clients with industry leading on time performance has played a significant role in being awarded this extension. We look forward to continuing our exceptional safety and operational record for BHP.”

CSI to carry out load and haul, drill and blast work at Rio’s Brockman 2 iron ore mine

Mineral Resources Ltd’s CSI Mining Services has been awarded a mining contract by Rio Tinto to carry out work at the Brockman 2 iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The scope of the contract will see CSI conduct load and haul, drill and blast, and short-term mine planning activities for Rio, the company said.

This will involve scheduling, drilling and blasting and then excavating 27 Mt of waste rock and iron ore over an approximate nine-month period, with a fleet of large-scale mining equipment, developing the Lens A/B pit for Rio.

This contract builds on a 16-year relationship with Rio, dating back to when CSI first commenced crushing services at the Nammuldi mine site. It also follows the completion of a 30 Mt load and haul contract at Rio’s Tom Price mine. CSI remains engaged at another Rio Tinto operation, Paraburdoo, where its team is carrying out 13 Mt of load and haul operations.

The Brockman 2 contract will generate around 150 jobs for CSI’s highly skilled workforce, the company said.

Mineral Resources’ Chief Executive Mining Services, Mike Grey, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by Rio Tinto to assist at another of its world-class iron ore mines. Our relationship with Rio Tinto dates back 16 years. Since then, we have been able to establish a track record of consistent project delivery for Rio Tinto, which we are very proud of.

“CSI is the world’s largest crushing contractor, so it is immensely satisfying that this latest Rio Tinto contract includes other mining activities, such as load and haul and drill and blast, to demonstrate CSI’s diverse skills set. We are confident this Brockman 2 scope of work will become the latest chapter of our ongoing association with Rio Tinto.”

Brockman 2 is one of the 16 mines that make up Rio’s world-class Pilbara iron ore operations.

The CSI team has begun mobilising to site, including delivering a new fleet of Komatsu 830E electric-drive dump trucks and a new Komatsu PC4000-11 excavator.