The Roy Hill iron ore mine is set to become one of the largest mining projects in Australia, with reserves exceeding 2.4 billion tonnes and a forecast production rate of 55 million tonnes per annum. It is being built in the Chichester Range of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, 277 kilometres south of Port Hedland and very remote. All of which makes it a potentially daunting project to work on, even for a contractor experienced in the field. So it is all the more impressive that Roy Hill was the site of Brookfield Multiplex’s first ever resources-sector contract in Western Australia.
Jon Stone, Brookfield Multiplex Regional Director for Western Australia since 2011, explains that even with Brookfield Multiplex’s 50-year contracting heritage and previous projects in the Engineering & Infrastructure (E&I) sector, the company was relatively new to the region’s mining sector. Brookfield Multiplex won the AU$200 million contract because its design concept for the central facilities aligned with Roy Hill’s expectations.
“We developed a scheme for them that was not only financially competitive with the market but, more importantly, absolutely aligned with their vision to deliver world-class mining facilities to their people,” says Jon.
“We were successful in winning the contract because we were able to understand what Roy Hill wanted and tailor the project for the company’s needs, while also giving them value for money.”
A challenging first foray into mine site work
Before joining Brookfield Multiplex in June 2010, Jon had been working in the UK managing the construction of Westfield shopping malls within the overcrowded confines of London. His following jobs with Brookfield in Australia were based around Perth, including Fiona Stanley Hospital (Brookfield Multiplex’s largest Design & Construct [D&C] project to date) as well as the City Link Bus Port, Crown Towers and the New Perth Stadium projects that he still oversees.
So managing a D&C project on an isolated mine site in the Pilbara was something very new to him as well. “Obviously it was a huge challenge, but also a very exciting opportunity to get involved with one of the few new mines being built in the North West,” he remarks.
Jon says that the first big challenge of working at Roy Hill was its remoteness. “Everything in the North West is a long way away, meaning logistics are key to the successful delivery of any project in the region,” he explains.
“For us, building the accommodation village was all about pre-planning: ensuring our subcontractors were on the same page as us when it came to the works programme, and scheduling material deliveries and working hours around the cyclone season. Between November and March cyclones can isolate the mine site, so you need to ensure that everything you need for the build is already there or scheduled to arrive in a timely manner.”
The second challenge was picking the right people to make up the project team. Although the accommodation village was a D&C project, the mine site was an E&I environment so Jon decided to create a team that was a “healthy mix” of half E&I-specialised staff and half D&C-specialised staff. “I believe that mix of people really did give something different to the project – including a very ‘can-do attitude’ to delivery.”
The third and final challenge was to gain a comprehensive understanding of working under mine site regulations, which for Jon was new territory. “It was a matter of ensuring we understood and fully complied with what the regulations were; and where we didn’t understand them at first, Roy Hill were tremendous in assisting us.”
Brookfield Multiplex overcame these challenges to finish the project on time and on budget, a result with which Jon and the project team were “extremely pleased”. The result was an accommodation village comprising 2,000 permanent rooms, an auditorium, mess halls and a state-of-the-art recreation centre featuring a gymnasium, sporting facilities, a swimming pool, multi-purpose room and barbeque areas.
A second contract at Roy Hill
Shortly after finishing the accommodation village for Roy Hill in November 2013, Brookfield Multiplex was awarded a second contract for the mine. This was a smaller contract worth $70 million requiring the completion of the Non-Processing Infrastructure (NPI) facilities at Roy Hill, including heavy and light vehicle workshops, vehicle wash down facilities, waste water treatment, power generation, tyre-change facility, lube farm, administration buildings and a gatehouse.
Having become familiar with the Roy Hill site and its challenges over the course of delivering the initial contract – learning “an awful lot” says Jon – delivering this second contract has been a lot easier. “Putting those lessons learnt into the tendering and execution of the NPI work stood us in great stead,” he comments.
“We also had many of the initial team who delivered the accommodation stay on for this second job, which was hugely beneficial. These are now seasoned workers who understand the culture and regulations and can pass their knowledge onto others.”
The signing-off process for the NPI project’s design and delivery has also run more smoothly this time around, says Jon, benefiting from the trust and familiarity that has built up between Brookfield Multiplex and Roy Hill.
Much more still to come
As it stands in July 2014, Brookfield Multiplex has completed more than half the NPI work and already handed over the administrative Go Line and gatehouse buildings. Mine staff are now able to check in at the gatehouse when entering the mine area and go to the Go Line facility for shift changes and to refuel and pick up their vehicles.
There is only one handover left now – the boilermaker and one of the smaller workshop facilities in September – before the work is completed in January 2015. “We’re on track for those dates and the work is going really well,” Jon remarks.
Looking beyond the NPI contract, Jon is hopeful that there will be further opportunities for Brookfield Multiplex to work with Roy Hill in the future. “We’re of the belief that if we do a good job, like that we did on the accommodation village, the door is left open for us to work with that client again,” he says.
While most of the resource-sector specialised staff within Jon’s Western Australian remit are occupied at Roy Hill, the company continues to look for further opportunities in the sector. With soon-to-be two successfully completed contracts at the Pilbara’s most exciting mine development under its belt, Brookfield Multiplex has made the best possible start in this new direction.