BHP continues to innovate with Port Hedland automation, dust control measures

Posted by Daniel Gleeson on June 2, 2022

BHP achieved Australian and world firsts in Port Hedland, Western Australia, involving the award of a wind fence contract and the trial of two new automated ship loaders in port operations.

The world’s first automation aims to deliver significant safety, production and cost benefits, BHP said, using 3D laser scanning technology as part of the A$50 million ($36 million) project. dollars) to fully automate eight shiploaders by 2023.

The eight shiploaders – at BHP’s Nelson Point and Finucane Island operations – are responsible for loading around 1,500 bulk carriers each year, exporting around 280 Mt of iron ore to global customers in 2021.

The project is expected to increase production by more than 1 Mt/y, thanks to the combination of greater precision, reduced spillage, faster loading times and equipment optimization, a declared BHP.

An additional 12 jobs have been created through this project, located in the integrated remote operations center in Perth. The number of Port Hedland-based roles remains unchanged, with existing staff being deployed to ship loaders and across a range of other production-based roles.

BHP’s active Chairman, WA Iron Ore, Brandon Craig, said: “The Shiploader Automation project demonstrates that our Pilbara teams are at the forefront of innovation, technology and operational excellence. . Automating our ship loaders will improve the safety of our personnel and allow us to load our ships more accurately and efficiently, including through automatic adjustments for changing weather, hazards and other port conditions.

Shiploaders will move to full automation later this year. Once completed, vessel loading operations will be operated from the integrated remote operations center in Perth.

Australia’s first wind fences, meanwhile, are designed to reduce dust emissions as part of BHP’s A$300 million air quality commitment. They will be built in Port Hedland by the CPB contractors of the CIMIC group.

Announcing the successful tender in Port Hedland, BHP and CPB Contractors said three fences would be erected on BHP’s operations at Nelson Point and Finucane Island. Construction of the wind fences is expected to begin in August 2022 and take 14 months.

Up to 150 employees will be involved in the construction of the project, with up to 10% indigenous employment.

Designed for the unique weather conditions of the Pilbara and specifically designed to withstand cyclones, the fences will feature mesh panels designed to reduce wind speed, protecting BHP stocks and reducing the potential for dust kick-up, it said. he declares.

Fencing will reduce dust emissions in current operations and ensure that there is no net increase in dust emissions if operations expand over time.

BHP Port General Manager Cindy Dunham said: “The wind fences will be constructed using world best practice in dust management and air quality control technology.

“The investment is part of our Pilbara Clean Air Program and demonstrates our commitment to the region and our contribution to the revitalization of the West End.”

CPB Contractors WA, SA & NT Managing Director Andrew Giammo said: “The construction of the wind fences will involve the fabrication of 3,000t of structural steel – this work will be undertaken here in WA and will be a blow major boost for local industry. ”

The wind fences, which will be manufactured and built in Western Australia, are designed to control dust from BHP’s port operations and will be the first of their kind in Australia.

The 30m high fences, which span a length of 2km, will include mesh panels designed to reduce wind speed, protect the stockyard and reduce the potential for dust kick-up. When the wind speed reaches a certain limit, the mesh curtain opens to let air flow through the fence.