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AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER STORY – WESTERN Building Information Modelling

COVERSTORY STORY––Building WESTERN AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER Information Modelling

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Australia’s best friend Red Dog’s Pilbara In the northwest of Australia, the Pilbara region is proving more popular than ever. Danny Cameron filed these stories. 28

ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JULY 2012

The story of Red Dog, a popular figure of the Pilbara with his own Bronze statue, has become Australia’s highest selling DVD of all time. Photo: DaviD Darcy/ roaDshow Films anD roaDshow EntErtainmEnt

ast year, the Australian film Red Dog told the true story of a loyal dog befriending a worker at Hamersley Iron and becoming a popular pet of the Pilbara community, so much so that there is now even a bronze statue of him in Dampier. The movie was the most popular Australian film for 2011 at the box office and has become the highest selling Australian DVD of all time. Even cruise ships have started visiting the area, and five more are scheduled to dock at Port Hedland in the coming year. The Port Hedland Port Authority (PHPA) said the recent visits by cruise ships had proven to be very successful for the port and the cruise operators involved. The town of Port Hedland and the Chamber of Commerce have also reported positively about the economic and social benefits that were generated for the local community by the visits. “Not only is this a great opportunity for the port and the town of Port Hedland, but also for the hundreds of tourists who will get the chance to witness operations at the world’s largest bulk export port first hand,” PHPA chief executive Roger Johnston said. The area is booming, largely fuelled by a thirst for Pilbara iron and the gas beneath the waters off the coast. Having already seen massive growth during the latter half of the last decade, record investment growth continues unabated, with total new private capital expenditure in Western Australia growing by 21% in 2010/11. In March, the Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum noted there was $125 billion of resource projects under construction or committed in the Pilbara and its offshore areas, while a further $83 billion of projects were under consideration. For the Western Australia Department of State Development Prospect magazine (www.dsd.wa.gov.au/documents/Prospect_June_2012.pdf), Western Australia premier Colin Barnett wrote: “The resources sector is certainly nothing but diverse and changing. However, with rapid development comes the resultant pressure on companies to fill thousands of vacancies. “It’s satisfying, then, to see industry is embracing employment change on two

fronts, with increasing employment of women and indigenous Australians. This has helped Western Australia create 40,000 new jobs over the past year, four times as many jobs as all other states combined. This is a direct result of the more than $17.7 billion in contracts going to local companies since the government launched its local content framework in July 2011.” It is expected that over the next few years a further 50,000 construction jobs and 15,000 permanent jobs will be created in the region. In April, Rio Tinto launched a massive recruitment drive seeking to fill some 6000 positions for tradespeople, engineers, planners, project professionals, geologists and operators. That same month, Fortescue Metals Group non-executive chairman Andrew Forrest celebrated his Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) filling 10,000 indigenous positions, and the Generation One campaign to provide a doorway for local indigenous to find gainful employment on resource and associated infrastructure projects continued to give results. The Australian reported that in the Pilbara, indigenous employment had reached 10%, compared to an average of 1.5% around the rest of the country. With a project hoping to deliver first iron ore in 2014, Gina Rinehart’s $7 billion Roy Hill project in the Pilbara expects 8500 positions to be filled during the construction phase of the mine and associated infrastructure. In late May, the federal government granted the Roy Hill project its first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA). The federal government set up the EMA program to allow for overseas workers to fill skills shortages on large resource projects. It has also established an Australian job website where companies and recruiters looking for overseas workers through the EMA will be required to first use the Australian jobs board to demonstrate suitably qualified Australians are given first opportunity. A spokesperson for the Roy Hill project said: “Where these jobs can’t be sourced from Australia, our EMA will allow for up to 1715 positions to be sourced from overseas. Once the construction phase is complete there will be 2000 permanent jobs for Australians for the next 20 years.”

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AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER STORY – WESTERN Building Information Modelling

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Pilbara Planning and Infrastructure Framework

COVERSTORY STORY––Building WESTERN AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER Information Modelling

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four years to complete the port and rail elements of a project to expand iron ore production capacity in the Pilbara to 353Mt/a by the first half of 2015. Of the total $3.5 billion infrastructure expansion, $2.9 billion will be used for an additional two berths on the new Cape Lambert jetty and wharf, the replacement of the existing rail car dumper, and a rail capacity enhancement project which will include a significant amount of rail track duplication and rolling stock improvements. Around $570 million will be spent on a new gas-fired power station at Cape Lambert. A further $1.7 billion will be provided to extend the life of the Rio Tinto Yandicoogina mine to 2021 and expand its nameplate capacity from 52Mt/a to 56Mt/a. A wet processing plant will also be added. BHP Billiton has proposed a $20 billion expansion of its own export facilities with the development of an outer harbour port off the shipping channel of Port Hedland.

The outer harbour development is expected to provide an ultimate export capacity of 240Mt/a of iron ore. Fortescue Metals Group is in the midst of an $8.4 billion expansion project that seeks to reach 155Mt/a iron ore export capacity. It now has three of four berths operational at Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland. First ore through its new processing facility at the 50Mt/a Christmas Creek mine is targeted for September and that same month pre-stripping of the top soil is expected to commence at the 60Mt/a Solomon mine. The largest project under construction in the region though, the $43 billion Gorgon LNG project, continues apace. The joint venture between Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas and Chubu Electric Power, has a scheduled completion of 2015. The 15Mt/a LNG development is the largest single resource project undertaken in Australia. n

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start the early planning, land acquisitions and pre-development of around 4300ha of land. The Anketell deepwater port and industrial precinct is planned to become a multiuser facility with an ultimate export capacity of 350Mt/a. It is this race to continue to rapidly develop the resources export capacity of the region that is driving all other activity in the Pilbara. Exports from the existing ports are continually breaking new records and in 2011, Dampier and Port Hedland ports exported a combined value of $66 billion of product, an exponential increase from around $12 billion of product exported in 2001. In May, Woodside produced its first LNG from its $15 billion Pluto LNG project near Karratha and last month loaded its first cargo aboard an LNG tanker for export to Japan. Also last month, Rio Tinto announced $3.5 billion would be spent over the next

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alsoMap in a state of massive growth. To adStrategy dress the issues associated with significant growth on community infrastructure the Western Australia government has established the Pilbara Cities program. It aims: “To build the population of Karratha and Port Hedland into cities of 50,000 people, and Newman to 15,000 people by 2035, with other Pilbara towns growing into more attractive, sustainable local communities.” Over $1 billion in state government Royalties for Regions funding has been committed to transform the Pilbara by building modern cities and regional centres that can support and deliver a skilled workforce to major economic projects in the Pilbara. In Karratha, the first element of a major $65 million central business district redevelopment was officially opened in May. Developer Finbar opened its nine-storey Pelago West high-rise containing 114 apartments and commercial space. The state government has also unveiled plans for a $207 million health campus in Karratha, the largest expenditure on health infrastructure in regional Western Australia to date. Around $150 million has been allocated to upgrade the existing Nickol Bay Hospital on the North West Coastal Highway, while $57 million will go towards a new hospital to be built in 30

ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JULY 2012

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Surrounding Port Hedland Airport, the second stage of a tourist resort called The Landing is set to commence in August, after construction commenced on the first stage only last month. The first stage consists of a six-storey tower and a two-storey village, while the second stage includes another six-storey tower. The buildings are expected to be completed by mid-next year. In South Hedland, the Royalty for Regions program and BHP Billiton Iron Ore have funded the $10.5 million upgrade and redevelopment of the town’s aquatic centre, complete with a wave pool designed by Australian company Latitube. Major infrastructure improvements are also occurring throughout the region. In February, Western Australia’s first domestic gas hub development in almost 20 years was opened. The Devil Creek gas plant, a joint venture between Santos and Apache Energy, is located on the Mardie Station pastoral lease approximately 45km southwest of Dampier and became the state’s third domestic gas processing plant. The project had a capital cost of $1.05 billion and the plant has a gas processing capacity of 78PJ/a. Horizon Power is currently embarking on the Pilbara Underground Power project. In a region where cyclones are common

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by replacing ageing overhead electricity infrastructure with underground networks. The project covers Karratha, South Hedland, Onslow and the remaining overhead network in Roebourne. An upgrade of the distribution voltage in Karratha from 11kV to 22kV will also form part of the project. The Water Corporation of Western Australia has also announced that it would soon commence installing 5700 smart water meters in the townships of Port Hedland and South Hedland, and 7400 smart water meters in Karratha, Roebourne, Point Sampson and Wickham. The $1.5 million water efficiency program aims to save up to 1.15GL/a of water. In between Karratha and Port Hedland, Rio Tinto is embarking on the $336 million expansion of the town of Wickham, close to the Cape Lambert port facilities, increasing the population from 2000 to 2600. The expansion will comprise 212 new dwellings on 174 lots, along with the installation of 198 new motel-style accommodation units for fly-in/fly-out workers. It follows the commencement of the $43 million project to upgrade the town’s wastewater and electricity infrastructure. Just south of Wickham, a whole new port is being considered and the state government has established a team to

Arrival of first Gorgon modules

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n a major milestone for Chevron Australia’s Gorgon project, the first pre-assembled rack (PAR) modules have arrived at Barrow Island. This is the first of 56 shipments of modules due to arrive at site for the project. The pipe racks arrived at the island’s new materials offloading facility (MOF) and have undergone inspection by the project’s quarantine team.

The PAR modules, which were transported from Indonesia, are now being moved to site by self propelled module transporters. They will eventually take their place in the east-west corridor area of the LNG plant. Chevron said over coming months the Gorgon project site on Barrow Island will be transformed as more PAR modules and first train processing modules arrive and are placed on their foundation. n

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AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER STORY – WESTERN Building Information Modelling

COVERSTORY STORY––Building WESTERN AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER Information Modelling

First gas delivered from Pluto

T

he first liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Woodside’s Pluto project near Karratha has been shipped to Japan after production commenced in May. It is the first greenfield LNG project completed in Western Australia in 23 years, and one of only two worldwide that will come online in 2012. The Pluto LNG project was developed by a joint venture partnership between Woodside (90% and operator), Tokyo Gas Pluto (5%) and Kansai Electric Power Australia (5%). The project is underpinned by 15-year sales agreements with Kansai Electric and Tokyo Gas. Woodside said Pluto generated more than 18,000 Australian jobs during the life of construction and delivered more than $7.6 billion in local content. The initial phase of the project comprises an offshore platform in 85m of water, connected to five subsea wells on the Pluto gas field, located in the Carnarvon Basin about 190km northwest of Karratha. The offshore facility exports the gas via a 180km long, 36² carbon steel submarine pipeline to a

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ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA| JULY | JULY2012 2012

shore crossing at the Burrup Peninsula, and from there via an onshore pipeline to the LNG processing plant. The Eos joint venture, consisting KBR and WorleyParsons, was awarded the contract for the detailed engineering, procurement management and construction management assistance services for the offshore production platform. Eos was initially awarded the front end engineering and design (FEED) contract for the Pluto offshore platform in September 2006. A joint venture between WorleyParsons and Foster Wheeler (FWW) led the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) delivery of all onshore infrastructure and facilities for the project, after FWW completed the front end engineering and design for the onshore plant. The onshore processing plant is located close to the Woodside-operated North West Shelf LNG and gas plant, which has been producing natural gas for Western Australia’s domestic use since 1984, and exporting LNG since 1989. The onshore processing operations include primary separation, gas treatment, condensate stabilisation and natural gas liquefaction. The facilities include an LNG processing train with a 4.3Mt/a capacity, two LNG tanks with a combined capacity of 240,000m³, loading facilities, service jetties and condensate storage tanks. WorleyParsons chief executive John Grill said: “It is a considerable achievement to have brought this project online, given the project’s enormous scope and scale.” Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said the first production of LNG from Pluto was a defining moment in the company’s history and marked the beginning of a new era for the company: “Pluto cements Woodside’s position as a

major supplier of LNG to the Asia-Pacific region and builds on our position as a global leader in upstream oil and gas.” He paid tribute to the thousands of people in Australia and overseas who had played a part in the delivery of the project: “[First gas production] is the culmination of millions of hours of work by our own people and the hundreds of businesses that worked on the construction phase of this project.” With an original budgeted capital cost of $12 billion and a completion date of late 2010, the Pluto project was over time and over budget with a final estimated cost of almost $15 billion. However, days after the first gas announcement Coleman spoke at the APPEA Conference Australian LNG: Opportunities for global leadership and said: “We are in a business that is highly capital intensive … thinking back to when Woodside took the decision to develop Pluto LNG, who at that time could have foreseen the acceleration of project costs, or the shale gas boom in the US, let alone a global financial crisis? “While we did not bring Pluto online according to our original schedule, it remains a great achievement to have gone from discovery in 2005 to first LNG just seven years later.” Coleman said Australia was at the centre of the global expansion of the LNG industry, noting that while four other Australian greenfield LNG projects – with combined capacity of more than 25Mt/a – have been sanctioned in the past year, no LNG project outside Australia has taken a final investment decision during this time. Two other major LNG joint venture projects are under construction in the northwest region, with Chevron the operator for both. The Gorgon LNG and gas project, on offshore Barrow Island 140km to the west, has an initial capacity of 15Mt/a. The Wheatstone LNG and gas project at Ashburton North near Onslow, 80km southwest of Karratha, has an 8.9Mt/a initial capacity. These plants are scheduled to commence production in 2014 and 2016 respectively and both, along with Pluto, are designed to be expanded in future. “On best-case projections Australia may rival Qatar as the world’s largest exporter of LNG in as little as six or seven years,” Coleman noted. However, he warned that bringing mega-projects off the drawing board and

A valve is opened at the Pluto LNG loading terminal in part of the onshore gas plant at Karratha. The first production of LNG from Pluto was a defining moment in Woodside’s history, chief executive Peter Coleman said.

into production is a difficult task, requiring premium capabilities across the LNG value chain. “Technology and innovation are crucial to this. Right now we are in a position of strength in this regard. Australian LNG is making good use of advances in modular construction, and leading the way in developments such as coal seam gas-to-LNG and floating LNG,” he said. “We compete in an industry in which

technology is constantly evolving, so the benefits of being a first-mover are significant. If Australian LNG is not able to lead this process, or at least be among the quickest to adapt, we risk losing our competitive edge.” Coleman said that because of this need to be at the forefront, Woodside recently announced the creation of a new technology group that would be specifically responsible for identifying leading-edge technologies

that can be applied to engineering and geoscience activities. “I believe Australia has the potential to emerge as a true global centre for LNG innovation in the near future. Under this scenario, we will not just be exporting our gas to customers, but also exporting high-value adding technology and services to international partners.” n

Accessing more remote resources

E

ngineers are being asked to answer more difficult questions in an increasingly accurate manner as the oil and gas industry looks to extract resources from more hostile and remote areas, particularly in underwater environments, according to Intecsea engineer Alastair Walker. “When I started in this business, we were working in a few hundred feet of water in the North Sea and now we’re dealing in thousands of metres. Back then, 60°C was a high temperature but now we’re designing for 160°C. “There are constant changes creating a need for better simulation, analysis and design. And we have to do it as cheaply as we can whenever possible, but always with assured high levels of safety,” he explained. Walker is the technical authority for advanced engineering at Intecsea, part of the WorleyParsons Group and a global company specialising in floating systems, offshore pipelines and subsea production systems. Last November, WorleyParsons and Intecsea were awarded the front end engineering and design (FEED) contract on the Hess Equus development project, which includes the first semi-submersible production facility design for a Western Australian project. The Equus FEED contract includes naval architecture, hull structure, mooring and riser engineering executed by Intecsea in Houston, as well as topsides engineering executed in Perth and Kuala Lumpur. Walker said that although the ultimate goal of any offshore project – to extract, transport and capture gas – has changed little over the years, the requirements of projects are progressively becoming more demanding. “One problem area, for example, is the environmental loading,” he noted. “Western Australia has severe cyclonic storms and this can obviously have an effect on struc-

tures on the surface and on the structures and pipes on the sea bed.” A project must protect the environment and the people working on it, therefore designs have to be reliable, accurate and precise, he said. They must account for all potential risk factors including the lie of the sea bed, the high temperatures and pressures experienced when a pipeline first starts up, and the stresses and strains that can be expected over its lifespan, he explained. To circumvent these issues, Walker said Intecsea has developed numerical methods of analysis and modelling using the Simulia Abaqus software from 3DExperience Company, Dassault Systèmes (3DS). The software allows the team to create complete models of what may happen to a pipeline based on multiple variables such as installation in a certain water

changing pressures and temperatures on a pipe. The simulations help to ensure safe designs that deliver optimal integrity for all possible conditions. Walker said he first began using Abaqus over a decade ago. Since then he has watched the software develop, catering for changing practices and processes. “There have been specific developments carried out in cooperation with industry standards,” he said. “For example, when dealing with pipelines on the sea bed, we have to consider the interaction of forces between the sea bed and pipeline. These are complex nonlinear problems but we’ve been able to work with Simulia and, more recently, their partner Simuserv to develop the tools to do this with an assurance of accuracy.” The FEED phase on Equus is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013. n

The requirements of offshore and subsea pipelines are becoming more demanding. Simulations are being depth, the impact of a cyclonic storm, or used to model the impact of storms on surface and sea bed structures.

ENGINEERS ENGINEERSAUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA || JULY JULY 2012 2012

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AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER STORY – WESTERN Building Information Modelling

COVERSTORY STORY––Building WESTERN AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER Information Modelling

Western Australia Division activities The Water Corporation of Western Australia northwest team (l-r): environmental engineer Kerrie Chapman (regional manager), civil engineer Dean Van Schalkwyk (asset planner), mechanical engineer Christien Ehrhardt (asset manager), civil engineer Yang Yang (asset planner), environmental engineer Andrew Ducas (stakeholder relationship coordinator), civil engineer Gilbert Goh (capability manager), and civil engineer Brett Jenaway (asset planner).

Challenges in delivering public assets

B

ehind the resources boom in the Pilbara region is a public infrastructure program trying to keep up with the growing demands placed, as growing numbers of temporary workers arrive. The state government is contributing to the public infrastructure expansion in the Pilbara region through the Royalty for Regions and Pilbara Cities programs. The government is working on a difficult balancing act, trying to develop sustainable communities at appropriate sizes, while start-up mega resources projects in the region only require a large workforce for a relatively small amount of time (relative to the life of the mine). The Water Corporation of Western Australia is responsible for the water and wastewater infrastructure throughout the state, and in the northwest region its operation owns and operates water and wastewater schemes in all major towns across the Pilbara and Kimberley. Along with the unique challenges of the location – “extreme weather conditions, remoteness of many operations and security of supplies to name three large ones” – the Water Corporation said the main challenges the North West Operations team faced are associated with the rapid residential, commercial and industrial growth in the Pilbara, primarily driven by the resource sector and the state government’s Pilbara Cities vision. “We are working closely with a number of government agencies, as well as the

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ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JULY 2012

resources and land development sectors to support this rapid growth, which has various water and wastewater schemes operating at, or near, full capacity,” Water Corporation northwest regional manager Kerrie Chapman said. The Water Corporation has in place a major Capital Investment Program of approximately $520 million through the next four years to support the Pilbara Cities initiative. Approximately $292 million is for wastewater infrastructure and approximately $228 million for water infrastructure. Most of the work focuses on Onslow, Karratha, Roebourne, Port and South Hedland, in accordance with the Pilbara Cities vision. Water Corporation northwest region asset manager and mechanical engineer Christien Ehrhardt said: “It’s an exciting time to be an engineer in the water industry in Western Australia’s northwest right now. There are many challenges we have to meet and there is a definite requirement to seek out innovative solutions to various issues we confront and to be resourceful in the way we operate.” Apart from Ehrhardt, the Water Corporation northwest team includes four civil engineers and two environmental engineers – including regional manager Chapman. While much of the detailed investigation and design work is outsourced to the private sector, Ehrhardt said the team does undertake front end design and investigation work. “We are very proud of a tool that has

been developed to better understand the capability of our assets to handle further levels of service requirements and existing condition risks. This tool will enable us to paint an accurate picture of risk, cost and servicing capabilities of all our northwest region schemes for the next 30 years,” he said. Within a local environment where engineers are being highly paid in the resources industry, the Water Corporation said it was managing to recruit people “interested in rapid career development, diversity in their role, interesting challenges, as well as the dynamic team culture and lifestyle opportunities that working with the Water Corporation provide”. “Once you look beyond salary there are substantial and unique opportunities for engineers interested in the water and wastewater industry,” Chapman said. Still, the Water Corporation does not do all the work itself, and last month announced that Tenix had been nominated as the preferred alliance partner for the Pilbara Wastewater Treatment Alliance. The alliance will work together for the next two years to deliver vital wastewater infrastructure to Karratha and Port Hedland. The new alliance will provide up to $200 million worth of major upgrades to wastewater services in the Pilbara to cater for projected residential and commercial growth. In particular, the Karratha Wastewater Treatment Plant No. 1 and South

by Leanne Hardwicke

A

ustralia predominately relies on its mining and agricultural activities to sustain its economy. This is particularly important for the Western Australian economy, and there can be no doubt about the contribution made by the activities in the northwest of the state. Our members are very much involved in the many big infrastructure projects in the region, either as a permanent resident in the area or on a fly-in/fly-out or drive-in/drive-out basis. While the northwest is a showcase of Australia’s resources sector, Western Australia’s regional cities have a concentration of engineering team members, providing hubs for engineering innovations and activities to benefit the wider community.

The Western Australia Division has around 14,000 members and covers the geographical expanse of the state. The Division’s regional groups include: the Dampier Combined Group (Karratha); the Port Hedland Group; the Mid-West Group (Geraldton); the Goldfields Group (Kalgoorlie/Boulder); Central Wheatbelt Group (Northam); the Peel Group (Mandurah); the South West Group (Bunbury); the Boddington Group; and the Great Southern Group (Albany). We also had a group in Newman, but this is currently inactive. Each of our country groups hosts a range of events, including technical talks, site visits and networking events.

Hedland Wastewater Treatment Plant will be upgraded to a capacity of 10ML/d by June 2014. The alliance will also construct new 6ML/d recycling plants in South Hedland and Karratha to treat wastewater to a standard suitable for irrigating areas such as ovals, road verges and golf courses. To hear how the local council manages its assets in the region, Engineers Australia magazine spoke with Ashburton Shire Council. The Shire of Ashburton has 6000 residents spread across country nearly half the size of Victoria (105,647km2). It features the four towns of Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Onslow and Pannawonica and “boasts some of the world’s largest open cut mines, largest pastoral leases and cattle stations, and a thriving fishing industry all set against a beautiful and ancient arid tropical landscape”. Executive manager of technical services and civil engineer Geoff Brayford said the council’s three qualified engineers and a number of other project managers were responsible for roads, drainage, public buildings and recreation infrastructure. “The shire is remote, with town centres up to 400km apart,” Brayford explained, and with the region growing rapidly, “the capital works program has increased considerably over the last few years, [largely] to accommodate the increased draw on public (mostly recreational) infrastructure.” The council said it had a rate revenue base $9.64 million for 2011/12 and budgeted capital works of $66.27 million. “The shire tries to maintain a reasonable capacity to undertake civil infrastructure construction … [but] almost all design and

all building construction [is outsourced],” Brayford said. “Local skill sets that are not already engaged by mining companies are often impossible to find.” He said the challenges lay in acquiring materials, resources and contractors. “The mining companies often have first call on local contractors, and all other non-mining or building contractors need to be sourced from remote distances. The same is also the case for professional consulting services. Even though work can be performed by long distance, face-to-face communications and consultations remain difficult,” he said. Acquiring staff and accommodation (residential and office) has also been an issue given the urgent growth cycle being experienced by the shire. Those looking after the road infrastructure through the region face similar challenges. The Pilbara region contains around 757km of National Highway, 1434km of State Roads and 7583km of local roads managed by the local authorities. Main Roads WA Pilbara Region delivery manager Peter Swaan said the main challenges Main Roads WA faced were the availability of funding, sourcing of suitable road building materials and water, availability of accommodation and availability of suitable plant and equipment. To attract more road infrastructure funding to the region, Infrastructure Australia last month said it will recommend to the federal government that the North West Coastal Highway be included in the National Highway system. Infrastructure Australia chair Michael Deegan explained

They are also very actively involved in bringing engineering to school children through school visits, spaghetti bridge competitions, and the science and engineering challenge. Our groups activities not only provide support to our regional members to allow them to become better engineers, but result in bringing the city and the country closer together. If any members would like to become involved with any of our groups, their contact details are on the Western Australia Division website. n Leanne Hardwicke is Engineers Australia Western Australia Divison executive director.

that if it were incorporated into the national system, the highway would need to meet a higher standard and therefore attract a different funding arrangement. As for meeting the other challenges, Swaan said there were around 14 people in his team undertaking various engineeringrelated tasks in the Pilbara region. “Current delivery of construction and maintenance is primarily outsourced through either Direct Managed Works or open and select public tenders,” Swaan said. Under a Main Roads WA Integrated Service Agreement, Macmahon Holdings is responsible for maintaining 2276km of roads across the Pilbara. With a workforce already in the region, Macmahon was well placed last month to win a further $220 million design and construct contract for the Great Northern Highway Realignment in Port Hedland. The project will involve the establishment of approximately 8km of new road and a major interchange. Other features of the design include a new road bridge over a BHP Billiton Iron Ore rail line, a low level bridge and the establishment of various intersections to current industrial areas as well as proposed new development areas. Macmahon chief executive officer Nick Bowen said: “We have the people ready to deliver this next important link. Scheduled for completion in mid-2014, the project is expected to bolster road safety through reduced road-train conflicts with commuter traffic and better access to new port and harbour areas.” n

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COVERSTORY STORY––Building WESTERN AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER Information Modelling

High tech workforce in demand as mine goes autonomous

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A large 930E Autonomous Haulage System truck in the process of dumping at Yandicoogina mine last month. The trucks are able to dump ore into the crushers, as well as move waste and shift stockpiles.

utomation is the way of the future, at least in the Pilbara, according to Rio Tinto Iron Ore after it commissioned the first wave of 10 Komatsu 930E automated trucks at its Yandicoogina operations in May. As part of the Mine of the Future program, Rio Tinto continues to ramp up autonomous operations and is looking to realise the efficiency gains and growth opportunities the autonomy presents. The company said the autonomous program is deploying new technology to make operations safer, more efficient and productive. With the latest batch of automated trucks in operation at Yandicoogina, the whole of Junction South East, “basically half of the 53Mt/a mine operation”, has been transferred into a state of complete autonomous operation – from the ore being drilled to it being carted from site by rail. The Komatsu Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) is a fleet management system for mines where the dump trucks are equipped with vehicle controllers, a global positioning system (GPS), an obstacle detection system and a wireless network system. The vehicles are operated and controlled from a central control point and one operator can efficiently monitor more than 10 machines at a time. Information on target, course and speed is sent wirelessly from the operations centre to the driverless dump trucks. The fleet control system prevents collisions with other dump trucks, service vehicles or other equipment at the mining site. In cases where the obstacle detection system detects another vehicle or person inside the hauling course under AHS operation, the vehicles will reduce speed or stop immediately. AHS also enables stable operation under difficult environmental conditions, optimising the performance of the machinery. When loading, the dump trucks are automatically guided to the loading spot after computing the position of the bucket of the GPS-fitted hydraulic excavator or wheel loader. The autonomous trucks can navigate a complex mining environment and can haul a 290t pay load. When he made the original announcement about the equipment acquisition of 150 Komatsu 930E autonomous trucks last year, Rio Tinto Iron Ore Sam Walsh said: “These technologies are revolutionising the way large-scale mining is done, creating attractive high-tech jobs, and helping us improve safety and environmental performance.” Progress toward full automation on Rio Tinto mine sites is definitely leading a shift in demand for a more technical labour force and the company is upskilling its workforce to meet this

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demand. A Rio Tinto Iron Ore spokesperson said 300 graduates were brought into the graduate program last year, and even more will be taken this year. Aerospace engineering graduate Michael Thomas, from the University of Sydney Australian Centre for Field Robotics, started his placement in February. Thomas cut his teeth in autonomous operation when he engaged in the UAV (unmanned airborne vehicle) Outback Challenge while at university. He said his interest in working for Rio Tinto was motivated around the autonomous Mine of the Future program the company is undertaking. In his graduate program, Thomas has started work in the Performance Division, working with data sets coming from the trucks in the northwest. He said the datasets are revealing in great detail how the trucks are running. One of the current projects Thomas is working on is fuel burn, to provide a baseline for the performance of the autonomous trucks, while also comparing the performance with the fuel burn of existing human-driven trucks. “The battle in mining is always to balance maintenance and operations, and this project will be a critical part of building the understanding we have of the autonomous operations,” Thomas said. The results will also help the operators make informed decisions about the operations and maintenance of the machines. Thomas said Mine of the Future program is a critical part of Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s plans to increase from the current production of 223Mt/a of iron ore in the Pilbara to 283Mt/a, set to be realised in the coming six months, and then to 353Mt/a by 2015. Having one person located centrally, he explained, operating numerous machines helps realise these ambitions in the current employment conditions where a skilled workforce is in high demand. n

Urban development on the rise

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ith the Pilbara Cities vision gaining steam, many of the towns in the Pilbara are under a state of urban rejuvination. Western Australia premier Colin Barnett said the government’s billion dollar Pilbara Cities initiative would help strengthen the Pilbara as a place to bring up families. The Pilbara Cities initiative shows a vision to develop Karratha and Port Hedland to 50,000 by 2035 from their respective 2011 populations of 16,476 and 15,044. Speaking recently at a Urban Development Institute of Australia industry breakfast, Pilbara Cities Office (PCO) manager of infrastructure coordination Keith Anthonisz said currently Karratha, Port Hedland, Newman and the remainder of the Pilbara region were short 3878 dwellings, with a further 7085 required by 2015. In the Town of Port Hedland Shire, the South Hedland Town Centre revitalisation project will enable the provision of 750 dwellings, with space for retail and commercial premises. The project received $23 million in funds from the Royalty for Regions for stage one in 2009, and last year received a further $54 million for stage two. Civil

works on the second stage are currently under way. In Karratha, the first element of the $65 million Karratha CBD redevelopment as part of the Pilbara Cities initiative was opened in May. As part of the vision, the town will need to develop higher density housing, and last month Finbar opened its Pelago West development – the first high-rise (nine-storey) tower in Karratha. Finbar said: “The town’s first modern residential and commercial development offers 114 one, two and three-bedroom apartments along with commercial spaces.” Shire president Fiona White-Hartig said the development dwarfs a church on Welcome Road, which was previously the town’s tallest building. “I think there has been a very positive reaction from the community because finally we have something different in the community,” she said. “We’ve got apartments, and we are going to have new retail and new dining facilities so I think it is going to be fantastic.” Stage two, known as Pelago East, is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by 2014. While it is the first high-rise in Karratha,

it is not the only one to be rising in the Pilbara landscape. The Landing at Port Hedland Airport is poised to undergo a major redevelopment including a number of six-storey towers. Work commenced last month on the first stage of development – a six-storey tower hotel and a two-storey village. Works are set to commence on the second stage, another six-storey tower, next month following the signing of a letter of intent between developer Centauri and Hickory Group in June. The Landing will also feature a multi-storey car park adjacent to the hotel. Centauri project manager Drew Searle expected it to be a sustainable project (see Creating sustainable accommodation below) and be complete mid next year. Centauri is also examining opportunities to expand its South Tower project by building an underground link between The Landing and the Port Hedland Airport that would eventually allow tourists and other travelers to move unimpeded, quickly and safely between the two sites. A proposal for the underground link is nearing completion and will soon be submitted to the relevant state government agencies and the Town of Port Hedland.

Creating sustainable accommodation

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he $150 million Landing Resort development aims to be a carbon neutral precinct as well as a complete wastewater recycling gateway to the Pilbara region. Extensive modular prefabrication construction techniques are being used to deliver the project to a challenging program. Stages one and two of the resort are being built in Thailand and Melbourne respectively. They will be shipped to Port Hedland, trucked to site and assembled with a minimum of material wastage and site operatives. As part of the project, engineering and sustainability consultancy Umow Lai is assisting principal design architect Noel Robinson Architects to optimise the passive design and material selection of the buildings. Other members of the project include Wood and Grieve, and Cardno. “Getting the architecture to perform well from a thermal efficiency and embodied carbon perspective is one of the top priorities when aiming to achieve a cost effective carbon neutral design approach,” Umow Lai associate director Anthony Marklund said. “The other top priority is the integrated building services approach. Having the architecture and services right helps minimise the vital final piece of the carbon neutral jigsaw

puzzle – onsite renewable energy sources. Though costly, these are required to offset the operational and embodied carbon.” Initiatives include the use of building-integrated photovoltaic panels to generate electricity; a central energy facility with biofuel trigeneration systems for site cooling, heating and power demands; and chilled water thermal storage. Marklund said investigations were still under way in Port Hedland to prove up the feasibility of harnessing wind energy as wind turbines would need to be engineered to withstand cyclone conditions. He said in what will be the first application of this kind in Australia, the hotel rooms will be airconditioned by active chilled beams fed by 100% outside air systems with total heat recovery. The beams are quiet, have no moving parts and operate with a dry cooling coil. By reducing sources of moisture, they also have an additional benefit of reducing risk of mould forming in the airconditioning systems. To ensure the active chilled beams operate as intended, the rooms are specified to high air tightness and are moistureproofed with factory and onsite testing of air permeability. Any condensate formed will be captured and recycled. n

ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JULY 2012

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Centauri has also formed a consortium with Laing O’Rourke to prepare a $300 million plan to turn Port Hedland International Airport into a major freight and passenger hub. This would be known as the North West Intermodal Hub and would act as a new gateway between Australia and Asia and service the needs of the resources and tourism industries. Elsewhere, Rio Tinto gained state government approval last month for the $300 million plan to expand the Pilbara town of Wickham. Wickham is currently home to about 2000 people and is located a short distance from Cape Lambert, one of Rio Tinto’s three ports situated in the

Pilbara. With operations expanding, Rio Tinto is working in partnership with others, including the Shire of Roebourne, to accommodate a growing workforce and revitalise the town. The expansion would see Wickham’s population increase to more than 2600. The Wickham Town Expansion Phase 2 project, which would create a new Wickham South subdivision, includes: building 212 new dwellings for company use, on 174 lots; providing 25 residential lots for use by government agencies, other businesses and indigenous organisations and 35 additional lots for future use; installation of 198 new high quality motel-style fly-in/fly-out

COVERSTORY STORY––Building WESTERN AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER Information Modelling

workforce accommodation units; construction of a new 1600m2 town administration and training centre for both company and community use; and the development of two new public recreational parks. The Wickham South expansion plan was prepared for Rio Tinto by Taylor Burrell Barnett Town Planning & Design in association with Thinc Projects, Shawmac, SKM, SVT, Creating Communities, Pracsys, Serling Consulting, Biota and Tim Davies Landscaping. The project has gained certification in five categories of the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s (UDIA) EnviroDevelopment program. Targets have been

Action aplenty in the Pilbara ports

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ecord cargoes are being shifted through the ports of the Pilbara. In 2011, annual iron ore exports from the Pilbara totalled 452Mt, and with continued growth expected through the region exports are forecast to reach 900Mt by 2020. In mid June, the Port Hedland Port Authority managed a record departure of six vessels on a single morning high tide with a combined total cargo of 1Mt. Throughput at Port Hedland has risen from 111Mt/a in 2006 to 199Mt/a in 2011, with a throughput of around 250Mt/a estimated for 2012. The ports in the area appear to be in a state of constant expansion. In the inner harbour of Port Hedland at Herb Elliott Port, Team 155 (Fortescue Metals Group, WorleyParsons and contractor personnel) completed its third berth in May, a major milestone in Fortescue’s plan to triple iron ore production by mid next year. The third berth takes Fortescue’s outload capacity to 100Mt/a. A fourth berth is scheduled for completion in March next year. In addition, BHP Billiton Iron Ore has now commenced preliminary works on the Port Hedland Outer Harbour facility which is proposed to facilitate an estimated throughput capacity of 240Mt/a. It is proposed to comprise eight berths on a 2km wharf, a 4km jetty and a 34km shipping channel. Two months ago BHP’s board approved $855 million in precommitment funding toward a feasibility study for the project as well as the ordering of long-lead items. Dredging works for the tug bays have already commenced and a preconstruction licence has been provided. The Port Hedland Port Authority (PHPA) spokesperson Steed Farrell said it

is not just a thirst for iron ore that is fuelling the growth, PHPA has commenced expansion of the port’s capacity for other imports and exports as well. Last November, the PHPA Utah Facility was recognised for its innovative engineering design when it was one of six projects that received a National Engineering Excellence Award from Engineers Australia. PHPA is now building on the “Utah Experience”, planning a number of new developments designed to increase the port’s export and import capacity. One of the proposals is the Lumsden Point development, which will be a multiuser general cargo facility focused primarily on the import and export of general cargo goods such as manganese, containers, cement and ammonium nitrate. PHPA is targeting completion of the first stage of this facility in 2014/15. An industrial estate is also being considered for development immediately to the south of the proposed Lumsden Point facility. The site abuts the existing congested Wedgefield Industrial Estate and will be serviced by the realigned Greater Northern Highway. This is being considered to provide landside facilities for the storage and movement of goods to and from the proposed berths at Lumsden Point, as well as provide future opportunities for the establishment of value added industries in the maritime sector. But the Port Hedland port is just one of the ports operating through the Pilbara. At Cape Lambert, Rio Tinto’s board last month approved a $2 billion major expansion of its iron ore port. The company plans to expand capacity of Cape Lambert

to 203Mt/a by 2015 as part of its greater plan to reach export capacity of 353Mt/a through the Pilbara. Western Australia premier and state development minister Colin Barnett said: “Investment on this scale in key port infrastructure is excellent news for the Pilbara and for Western Australia. It underlines the increasingly significant role that expanded iron ore production and a dynamic Pilbara are having in shaping the economic and social future of our state.” Cape Lambert early works have already commenced with dredging of the harbour. Last month, Rio Tinto awarded McConnell Dowell the Tug Harbour marine works. The scope includes marine works associated with the construction of a new tug pen, pontoons and access gangways. Ten kilometres south of Cape Lambert, and to keep the area expanding even further, the state government is aiming to assemble the land required for the Pilbara’s next major deepwater port and industrial precinct. Anketell Port would be developed in stages as a multi-user facility with an ultimate export capacity of more than 350Mt/a. In the Western Australia Department of State Development, Anketell strategic infrastructure executive director Gary Simmons said: “The state government is aiming to have the land available for a port development ready for construction by April 2013.” Simmons and his team are currently in the middle of land negotiations with pastoral leases and native title to secure around 4300ha. The approximate land requirements include 1700ha for port operations, 1760ha for transport and service corridors and 840ha for industrial areas.

set for reusing and recycling waste during construction in a comprehensive construction and operational environmental management plan. A community waste minimisation and recycling strategy also helped it gain certification in the waste category. To gain its Energy certification, building lots are carefully positioned for solar orientation, while all dwellings will perform to 7.5 BCA star rating. Other categories certified were ecosystems, water and community. UDIA chief executive Debra Goostrey said: “Rio Tinto’s commitment to producing quality sustainable housing for the Wickham community has really set new

The department has engaged Evans and Peck to look at early engineering planning requirements in line with Dampier Port Authority requirements. Environmental processes are currently under way and it is expected that the EPA will issue a set of conditions to impose on any proposed development shortly. “The next phase is to assess who will build and fund the development of the first stage and discussions are currently under way,” Simmons said. Two iron ore companies – Australian Premium Iron and Fortescue Metals Group – have independently selected Anketell as the preferred location for their export facilities. The state government is working with these companies to find appropriate arrangements, with plans to commence operations through the port by 2015. To coordinate all this port development through the Pilbara in a more efficent manner, the state government earlier this year proposed a consolidation plan to create a larger regional port authority that would “reduce red tape”. It is proposed that Pilbara Ports Authority will comprise the ports of Port Hedland and Dampier, the proposed new ports at Anketell and Ashburton North; and the ports at Cape Preston, Port Walcott, Varanus Island, Barrow Island, Airlie Island, Thevenard Island and Onslow. “The creation of [a regional port authority] will ensure better planning and coordination of port development,” Western Australia transport minister Troy Buswell said. “Future ports planned for the Pilbara will also come under the control of the regional port authority.” The formation of a single Pilbara Port Authority will create the largest bulk export port authority in the world. n

standards for what’s possible in remote mining communities.” A $55 million earthworks contract for the Wickham South residential development was last month awarded to Brierty and Aboriginal owned Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation Ltd (NYFL). Works include services installation, roadworks, streetscape and park landscaping. The contract commences this month and is due for completion in March 2013. Civil and mining contractor Brierty and the NYFL entered into the joint venture to pursue urban infrastructure works, which includes subdivisions on land in the Pilbara, where the Ngarluma

and Yindjibarndi people are the traditional owners. Brierty managing director Peter McBain said: “The agreement with the traditional owners of the Karratha and Roebourne area, where we have a number of projects, is important to us in that it should allow us to consolidate our recent achievements with aboriginal engagement and provide positive outcomes for local people.” NYFL chief executive Evan Maloney spoke of the widening opportunities for local Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people, not only in the local workforce but also potentially as owner-operators of equipment used in these urban infrastructure works. n

Port Hedland Port Authority shipped a record 1Mt of product on one tidal movement early last month, moving six Cape size vessels through its port. Photo: Port hEDlanD Port authority

An aerial view of the Gorgon materials offloading facility looking back towards the plant site on Barrow Island.

Photo: chEvron australia

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ENGINEERS ENGINEERSAUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA || JULY JULY 2012 2012

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AUSTRALIA/PILBARA COVER STORY – WESTERN Building Information Modelling

At Whitnell Bay near Karratha, with Karratha Photo: DavE may LNG Plant on the horizon.

Living in the Pilbara Engineers Australia magazine asked local Dave May, Woodside Energy instrumental engineer at Pluto LNG plant, about life in the Pilbara.

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I understand you live and work in the northwest – when did you first go there? I moved from Perth to the Pilbara at the beginning of 2010 and have been living the dream up here for the past 2.5 years. What is the work roster for people who live in the area? A typical residential engineering roster is a nine day working fortnight. Having a rostered day off every second weekend is great for a good work/ life balance. You have opportunities to get out and explore the Pilbara. Can you explain your current position and the work you typically perform during a working week? I am an instrument engineer working at Pluto LNG. My role is to manage the integrity of the facility through process monitoring and engineering change control. What are some of the unique aspects of working in the region? Working in the Pilbara gives you a chance to work onsite with some massive pieces of equipment while alongside operations and maintenance staff. It can be a challenging work environment both physically and mentally. When you are running around site on a 45°C day working to maintain production rates or the integrity of the plant, an airconditioned Perth office with views over the Swan River may seem desirable. However, the satisfaction of achieving your goals while working on the coal face is much more rewarding. The technical experience you gain on site is second to none and you get the opportunity to work with vendors, contractors and specialists, which helps develop your technical and managerial skills. Can you describe living and working through the distinct seasons of the north? Living through a cyclone season is an interesting experience. While the general consensus is excitement about getting a day or two off work, you have to remember that cyclones have the potential to be devastating. Everyone seems to become professional meteorologists during the

months of November through to April – with predictions about the severity of the season based on anything from the seawater temperature or the amount of flies in the air, to their last trip to Argentina. The distinction between dry and wet seasons is fascinating. In the Pilbara, the construction workforce is fairly productive in 45°C dry weather. However, introduce some rain, and you will notice the productivity decline rapidly. It is interesting to compare this with sites overseas where workers will work in rain and snow, and productivity declines when the temperature hits 30°C. What are your living arrangements in the area? I live with my partner in a house provided by Woodside. What is the sense of community in your neighbourhood? As there are a lot of young professionals living in the same area, we tend to socialise together. There are plenty of sporting groups to be a part of and there are always friends keen for a beer at the pub or an impromptu camping trip. What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time, I try spend as much time out of Karratha as possible. Karratha is no doubt a work town but it is also in the heart of the Pilbara, and only a drive away from some of the most spectacular sights in Western Australia. Karijini, Exmouth and Coral Bay are just a few of some excellent places I like to explore or relax. When I am in Karratha I enjoy swimming, playing volleyball in team “Hammeray” and photographing the awesome Pilbara landscapes and sunsets. What do you wish to see improve in the region? International flights from Karratha airport to Singapore, and a greater variety of local restaurants, cafés and bars would be nice. n


Pilbara explorations  

Engineering in the Pilbara

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