McConnell Dowell completes Chith Export Facility in Australia


New Zealand-based McConnell Dowell has completed the construction of Chith Export Facility for Rio Tinto’s $2.6bn Amrun bauxite development on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, Australia.

Through collaboration and innovation, the modern facility has been delivered safely, efficiently and with minimal environmental impact.

Constructed in just 12 months by McConnell Dowell, the Chith Export Facility includes a 650-metre access jetty and a 350-metre load wharf, both provisioned with services, conveyors, roadways and access walkways.

Onshore scope included 350 metres of ground conveyors and a transfer station.

The facility is part of Rio Tinto’s Amrun project, which includes the construction of a bauxite mine, processing plant and port facilities.

The marine project was designed by Jacobs and constructed by McConnell Dowell, with constructability oversight by Rio Tinto’s EPCM, Bechtel.

Jacobs’ design concept marked a shift from traditional stick-built to a modularised approach, where the wharf was split into seven ‘jackets’ incorporating dolphins and topside modules.

The jacket design reduced the number of permanent piles to be installed from 100 to 28, minimising the environmental impact to marine life in the area, a key focus of the Amrun team.

The jacket structures and topside modules were fabricated off-site by McConnell Dowell’s fabricators, enabling onsite jetty construction and wharf fabrication to concurrently and delivering safety and quality control benefits. The largest topside module weighed 1,200 tonnes.

McConnell Dowell’s cantilevering traveller frame with hydraulic piling gates was used for constructing the jetty. The temporary works were fabricated keeping efficiency and repeatability in mind.

Access was incorporated into the traveller design, creating a safe work environment with no requirement for scaffold.

These innovations reduced high-risk over-water and working at height activities and reducing overall build time by 12 months.

Rio Tinto project general manager Marcia Hanrahan said: “Innovations such as these are integral for advancing the future of the mining and metals industry in a safe, cost effective and replicable manner.

“The collaboration between Rio Tinto, Bechtel, McConnell Dowell and Jacobs throughout the design, fabrication and construction phases of the project has delivered an approach to wharf building that will pave the way for future projects, not just in Australia but globally.”

McConnell Dowell Australian managing director Jim Frith said: “Marine construction is core business for McConnell Dowell so to see collaboration lead to some really ground-breaking new methods is very exciting.

“New approaches that deliver time, cost, quality and environmental benefits are rare to achieve, so we are extremely proud to be part of this project with this team.”


Image: Chith Export Facility. Photo: Courtesy of McConnell Dowell.

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