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Fenner Dunlop presses ahead with Western Australia expansion plans

Fenner Dunlop is to once again expand its Kwinana manufacturing facility in Western Australia, with a third steel cord press line set to boost capacity by 50%.

Since opening the A$70 million ($50 million) manufacturing facility in Kwinana, in 2009, the company has looked to progressively expand its capabilities in line with market demand.

The original facility, built specifically to produce steel cord belting, represented, at the time, the largest investment in conveyor belting manufacturer ever made in Australia by any company, according to the company.

In 2013, an additional A$20 million was invested to install a second press line to double the plant’s production capacity and increase the Kwinana workforce by 30%.

“Australian manufacturing has survived many challenges over the past decade,” the company said. “The COVID-19 crisis in 2020 has demonstrated the value of Australian manufacturing to the economy and to the mining sector in particular.

“While other companies are contracting and moving their manufacturing operations offshore, Fenner Dunlop continues to support the local economy and is proud to be the largest conveyor belt supplier in Australia and the only company to manufacture the complete range of conveyor belts for all mining applications locally.”

Today the facility houses two of the world’s largest steel cord press lines and has the capability to produce steel cord and rubber ply belting up to 3,200 mm wide and up to 50 mm thick.

Steve Abbott, Chief Operating Officer, said: “Kwinana is close to its main customers, allowing us to provide a quality product with reduced lead times while keeping the investment in Western Australia.

“Our customers have the convenience of dealing with a global business, supported by a state-of-the-art conveyor belt manufacturing facility in their backyard and the assurance of technical support that understands the local operational environment.”

These customers include Rio Tinto, BHP and many more.

Fenner Dunlop says it is once again partnering with Siempelkamp to commission the third line, which is the finest multi-piston press and associated equipment in the world, continuing the longstanding partnership in the production of high-quality conveyor belts.

The third line will increase the plant‘s capacity by a further 50%, and additional investment will support the efficient manufacture of fabric conveyor belts for Western Australian customers, the company added.

Abbott said: “The plant expansion is part of our longer-term strategy, following the plant opening in 2009 and the initial expansion in 2013. While the expansion is a reflection of our success, it allows us to maintain our responsiveness in quoting, production and delivery to meet the constantly changing requirements of our customers.”

The A$23.5 million investment is part of Fenner Dunlop’s commitment to grow its conveyor belt production to meet the increasing demand in Western Australia, it said.

The manufacturing plant also incorporates a testing and R&D laboratory to ensure all work is done to the highest quality and safety standards and all systems are under constant review and continual improvement.

Site work is scheduled to start in March 2021 with the commissioning in December 2021. The new press line will start full production in January 2022, according to the company.