Construction of BHP’s South Flank project is more than 65 per cent complete, with ore already being hauled and stockpiled. The mine’s massive primary crushers are now being slotted into the cliff-like walls of the two run-of-mine (ROM) pads.
The project is using modular construction techniques to speed up the build of the 145 million tonne per year ore processing hub, and the modules are some of the biggest ever delivered into the Pilbara.
Around 1500 units of all shapes and sizes, totaling 35,000 tonnes arrive into Port Hedland. But with many up to 15 metres wide, and the largest weighing 354 tonne, getting the modules 350 kilometres from Port Hedland to South Flank is a highly complex road transport job. Two years of planning is helping this epic logistics exercise run smoothly.
The modules are assembled into convoys on heavy-lift sleds at Boodarie. They travel to site at 40 kilometres per hour, and anything more than 8.5 metres wide has to move at night, which brings unique challenges.
“We’re working hard to minimise our impacts on other road users,” notes Mick Antony, BHP Port Logistics Superintendent.
“We let 180 stakeholders know the details of each convoy in advance, and work closely with local police, transport, fire and emergency services to smooth the way for both regular and emergency road users, day and night.”
It has taken the site’s biggest crane to ease each 340-tonne ROM bin into position, completing the first link in the ore processing chain.
Stretching away from each crusher across the undulating Pilbara landscape, high-tech overland conveyors pop against the red dirt, thanks to their 24,000 bright yellow composite rollers.
Designed and built in WA, the conveyors total more than 26 kilometres. They are being fitted with the belts that will form the mine’s main arteries, set to carry 80 million tonnes of ore a year to the coarse ore stockpile, inside the rail loop.
Here, more modules have been bolted together to form the Ore Handling Plant, including the secondary crushing and rescreening plants, which rise 30 metres above the stockyards they will feed.
At the eastern end of the loop, the 60-metre boom arm of Stacker ST4, built in WA and delivered to site in January, has been positioned on its rail sled, ready for electrical fit-out.