Working for the Pilbara

Organising a mine shutdown in the remote Pilbara region can be a challenge at the best of times. However, one company is creating a name for themselves for shutdowns, maintenance and project management. Catriona Pollard writes.

Organising a mine shutdown in the remote Pilbara region can be a challenge at the best of times. However, one company is creating a name for themselves for shutdowns, maintenance and project management. Catriona Pollard writes for Australian Mining.

Organising a mine shutdown in the remote Pilbara region can be a challenge at the best of times. But one company, Bilfinger Berger Services, is creating a name for themselves for shutdowns, maintenance and project management.

In addition to the Pilbara facility at Newman, BBS operates regional facilities throughout Western Australia, including Perth, Kalgoorlie and Port Hedland. BBS provides comprehensive engineering, fabrication, and site services across the state.

BBS managing director Mark Elliott said BBS specialises in fast response and remote site operations.

“We have a significant pool of labour, as well as plant and equipment resources that can be mobilised at short notice from regional operations, from within the state and across the country.”

“BBS opened a fabrication workshop in Newman to enable BBS to provide faster and more localised support to clients. It also provides employment opportunities for local people and is also a skills centre where clients can source highly skilled trades for specialised jobs,” Elliott said.

Pannawonica Mine Shutdown

The successful shutdown of the Pannawonica Mine in the Pilbara was on budget, incident free and ahead of schedule.

The trainload out facility is the last point before the ore leaves from the mine to Dampier. Bilfinger Berger Services was approached, Pilbara Iron/Robb River Mining to complete the shut down and provide supervision, labour and equipment to carry out maintenance repairs to the train loadout facility.

Aaron Matthews, who is responsible for the project said, “We only had limited accommodation with 30 men plus two supervisors (day + night) and only had 14 days to carry out work including repairing trainload out, carry out structural repairs plus repair ore sizing shoot.”

One of the difficulties they faced turned into a blessing. Due to the labour market being so tight in WA, Mathews decided to fly in crew. “We hand picked specific people for specific roles and brought a number of people from our Mt Isa facility.”

“The logistics alone of getting flights for the crew from Mt Isa was difficult. In addition to that, we mobilized out of Newman which is 800km away from Pannawonica. This involved getting trucks, utes and equipment to the site.”

“All were hand picked and around 80% of the crew were direct BBS employees. As a result the crew delivered exceptional results.”

The expected 14 day shut down came in three days ahead of schedule and the programmed tasks were completed in 11 days. They did additional tasks in the final three days.

“We didn’t have a crew member need any first aid at all — not even a Band-Aid – which is the biggest win for me.”

This contract generated more work for BBS and has strengthened relationships with Pilbara Iron and Robb River Mining. Since then they have completed two other successful shut downs and started a substantial project involving fabrication and installation to be used in the Pannawonica Mine.

“The Pannawonica shut down was successful because of the crew. As I tell my men, I am only as good as my crew. The people who did the work resulted is us getting the extra projects and so the credit goes to the crew,” said Mathews.

Design and construction projects

In addition to shutdowns, Bilfinger Berger Services are building a reputation for innovative project management solutions across the mining sector in WA, largely due to their unique in-house process engineering and construction capabilities.

“Our reputation for completing work that meets and exceeds client expectations has helped establish a number of long-standing relationships and long-term contracts within the mining sector,” said Elliott.

“We are very proud of our world-class in-house process design group. With substantial experience both in Australia and overseas, our chemical and mechanical engineers are providing a unique service to clients,” said Elliott.

In Tom Price, BBS have completed a concrete construction for Pillar Iron. The project involved the construction of 600mm deep slab including 9000mm deep stiffening beams. The purpose of the installation was to provide a working surface for cranage that was required during a blocked chute situation and to provide tie back (stability) to the adjacent 6m high retaining wall.

BBS scope included all of the required earthworks, the difficulty for which was increased due to the proximity to the live conveyor. BBS then tied all required reinforcement, including tie backs to existing structure and one day pour 200m3 concrete pour.

Yandi mine projects

BBS have also completed number of design and construction projects for the Yandi mine in the Pilbara region.

Bilfinger Berger Services were engaged by BHP Billiton to build an Interim Crushing Plant (ICP) alongside the Yandi II Crushing Plant in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Under the $16 million contract, the ICP was designed to process 5.5 MTPa of iron ore (maximum lumps size 1.2 metres) to produce iron ore fines with 95 per cent passing 12mm. The plant consists of three stage crushing and screening with a tertiary circuit and seven belt conveyors. BBS maintained full mine operation while building the tertiary circuit and seven belt conveyors required to crush and screen the iron ore. The project also covered provisions for stacking and train loading the iron ore.

Also in Yandi, the $36 million Yandi Iowa Primary Crusher & Overland Conveyor was commissioned by BHP Billiton Iron Ore. BBS designed and constructed a primary crusher, overland conveyor and stacker and undertook all aspects of the project, including design, procurement, construction and com¬missioning management, as well as mechanical and LV Electrical Installation works.

BBS built the Iowa Crusher between the C1, C2 and C5 pits onsite, feed¬ing ore to a 5 km-long overland conveyor which transports it to the Yandi II Ore Handling Plant (OHP II).

BBS and the Iowa construction team completed the works for BHBP and HWE Yandi operations, achieving their established performance targets of 100 per cent compliance with the Iowa Project Safety Management Plan, no lost time injuries and maintenance of maximum production from both Yandi I and II Handling Plants.

Mark Wheeler

Business Development Manager, WA

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