A ship pilot’s view of Port Hedland [video]

Millions of dollars worth of iron ore flows in and out of Port Hedland every day, and the pilots responsible for moving the carriers into place take on a massive responsibility.

This video was taken in 2012 and shows the Iron Yandi ship moving into position at Port Hedland.

 

The journey is a pretty typical trip for the ore carriers and their pilots, who are flown on board once the ship nears the coast.

 

The entire operation starts during the day but continues on into the night, and requires the vessel to make a 180 degree turn with the help of a few tugboats.

 

Check out the full video below:

 

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4WD Industry questions BHP Billiton light vehicle policy

The Australian 4 Wheel Drive Industry is questioning the occupant safety protection afforded by the recent introduction by BHP Billiton of a new policy to limit light vehicle access to its mine sites.

In a phased approach from 2013 onwards, only vehicles with a Five Star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rating will be allowed on sites.


The policy also prohibits the fitment of non ANCAP compliant bull bars and aftermarket suspension kits (and upgrades) as well as roll over protection. 

The policy applies to both BHP fleet and contractor owned vehicles on any BHP site anywhere in the world and to all new vehicles brought into service from January 2013 onwards.

Spokesman for the 4WD Industry Council (4WDIC) Stuart Charity, said it strongly supports the drive to improve vehicle occupant safety on and around mine sites but is disappointed by the lack of consultation.

"On the surface, most people would view the BHP policy as a great step forward. However, the 4WDIC is disappointed at the lack of consultation and the 'one size fits all' policy outcome,” he said.

"Australia has a large and innovative 4WD aftermarket industry. It offers a wide range of Australian Design Rule (ADR) approved products designed to protect vehicles and occupants in our hostile remote regions.

"Among those proven products are bull bars, suspension enhancements for additional load bearing capacity and roll over protection systems (ROPS). The BHP policy takes little from the aftermarket industry's extensive knowledge and experience in engineering vehicles to suit their intended end use.

"While the 4WDIC supports the move to ANCAP Five Star ratings for mining vehicles, we see no need to ban the fitment of safety equipment that does not adversely affect compliance with mandatory vehicle standards and does not reduce the safety performance of the vehicle. The 4WDIC believes this ban will result in vehicles that are less safe on public roads and in remote areas."

Image: aftermarket.com

Aurizon inks another coal haulage deal

Rail firm Aurizon has signed a new long term contract to haul 5.5 million tonnes of coal a year from Ensham's mine in central Queensland to the Port of Gladstone.

 

The new deal extends an existing arrangement which is set to expire in 2015, and will see Aurizon manage rail haulage for the company until 2024.

 

Aurizon executive vice president Paul Scurrah said both companies had decided to strike the deal before the end of the first contract in order to generate more value for each party.

 

“Under this new arrangement, Aurizon can better meet Ensham's demand for services to align with its mine production in both the short and long term,” he said.

Galilee Basin rail vital to QLD industry

The Queensland Resources Council says an agreement to build new rail and port developments for Queensland's Galilee Basin is a “great step forward” for the state's industries.

ABC News reports QRC CEO Michael Roche said a recent agreement between Aurizon and GVK Hancock was vital to opening up the Galilee to mining development.

 

“Bringing in a partner like Aurizon is a great step forward and I think all is well now for some of the other projects in the Galilee Basin,” he said.

 

“There are literally tens of thousands of jobs hanging off the successful launch of the Galilee Basin as an export basin for Queensland and so having a rail and port solution is an essential part of that.”

 

The agreement between Aurizon and GVK will see the two companies build $6 billion worth of rail and port infrastructure to link prospective coal mines to the coast.

 

Under the agreement GVK is providing financial backing and Aurizon is providing railway logistics.

Truck crashes on the rise in mining states

 While truck crashes are decreasing in NSW, a new report has found an alarming surge of heavy vehicle accidents in both Queensland and Western Australia.

The NTARC report attributes the rising accident rate on the increase in road transport necessitated by the booming mining industry, the ABC reports.

Queensland’s Bruce Highway is the worst culprit, struggling to keep up with the large numbers of heavy vehicles using the road.

Although extensive roadworks are underway, critics say there are not enough overtaking lanes or rest areas.

The report examines every heavy vehicle accident in Australia in 2011 and was researched by the National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) – a body wholly funded by National Transport Insurance.

Director of research Owen Driscoll said the Bruce Highway is now one of the most dangerous roads in the country.

"If you're comparing it to the other major highways in Australia it runs a very poor last," he said.

Another report, recently published by the Australian Automobile Association, found that 17 per cent of all national road deaths occurred on the Bruce Highway.

The highway only services around 20 per cent of the traffic that travels on major highways like the Pacific or Hume, Driscoll said.

But the Bruce has the greatest proportion of major truck accidents in the country.

Locals blame the poor state of the highway for the jump in accidents.

"It's been neglected for a very long time and it's not an all-weather highway," Liz Schmidt, secretary of the Livestock and Rural Transport Association said.

"I would think in the most recent two wet seasons, we probably lost six or eight weeks with the trucks sitting on the side of the road. Five trucks, five days at a time, or three or four days at a time. And then there'll be a huge event and there'll be a bridge washed out," she said.

The NTARC report goes beyond pinning the accidents to poor road conditions and names driver fatigue as another factor.

Driscoll believes many drivers are fatigued when they start a shift not just at the end of one.

"Seventy per cent of incidents are happening on outbound journeys and, in cases where they're on an outbound journey, within the first 250 kilometres," he said.

The research incorporated the analysis of driver’s log books in order to assess if ‘over-work’ affected fatigue and crashes.

Driscoll soon discovered factors outside of work were a major contributing issue.

Drivers clocking on after a weekend break were often just as tired as those coming of a week on the road.

"They haven't worked since Friday or Friday night, but they're tired," he said. "How do you identify that?"

The research has prompted the National Transport Insurance to educate both businesses and fleets about the importance of driver fitness checks and responsible rostering.

"We can sit in an office and if we are not feeling all that great on a Monday, because we have had a fairly busy weekend, we can still go to work," Driscoll said.

"These guys have got to manage even their time off so when they're back in their truck on Sunday night or the early hours of Monday they're fit and ready to go."

One point of concern for the Road Accident Action Group (RAAG) is the lack of adequate rest areas along the stretch of the Bruce.

RAAG is a community organisation which aims to improve the safety of the highway.

"There are no heavy vehicle rest areas in possibly 120 kilometres of here and there's only one new one that's been opened between Mackay and Rockhampton," Graeme Ransley, road safety coordinator for RAAG said.

"So, that's 320 kilometres with only one heavy vehicle rest area and that … it's recognised in guidelines that there should be a heavy vehicle rest area every 80 kilometres," he said.

The research shows that major mining states Queensland and Western Australia have experienced an increase of heavy vehicle accidents.

"These are the states that are expanding through mining," Driscoll said.

"So we're getting more traffic going to new locations on the worst part of the network. The other aspect of that too is that heavy vehicle drivers, many of them, haven't been into those particular locations before.

"It's off their normal route. So effectively, as you follow the expansion of the mining industry throughout Queensland and Western Australia, we're finding there are more incidents."

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the Bruce Highway had suffered from underinvestment.

He said $3.3 billion has been invested into the road since Labor came into office, with 90 kilometres of duplications currently under construction.

Albanese added that in the previous budget there was almost $200 million allocated for 50 new overtaking lanes, tackling 122 dangerous black spots, and 24 new rest areas.

Automated and accurate

Automated systems for payload data collection are ensuring higher mine efficiency.

A survey of some of Australia's most senior mine managers, geologists, planners and engineers has revealed that a number of mines have been collecting payload data manually, either with handwritten logs or information typed into spreadsheets. 

"As the management style for mines continues to evolve from one of maximising production regardless of cost to one more closely resembling a factory-based 'just in time' system, it's incredible that so many mines are still relying on data that may be incorrect," Elliot Chisholm, Loadrite's global product manager, said. 

The slow uptake of automated measurement and reporting systems is due to lack of awareness of what's available and concerns about the longevity of technology solutions in the physically tough mining environment. 
"The value of this information is huge and it's easy to implement an automated system that completely removes the need for handwritten logs or manual spreadsheets," Chisholm added.

According to Chisholm automated measuring of the amount of material moved, and then analysing the data through a variety of reports has far reaching benefits.

At the basic level, an automated system installed in an excavator or wheel loader can act as a gauge for the operator, and indicate exactly how much material has been moved, how much is in the bucket, and how much is in the truck ahead. This will ensure that trucks are never over or under filled which is important for safety and cost efficiency.

At the next level, information sent from each individual loader to a central software system can track how much material is moving on site, and monitor the achievement of planned throughput. Data can be used in number of ways to ensure that the mine is working as productively and efficiently as possible, Chisholm explained. 

The content and the format of the reports can be customised on the system to best suit the mine's individual operations.

Reports are delivered to a central computer using USB data module, radio modem, WiFi or cellular technology. Once arrived, it is exported into various formats enabling the data to be viewed and dissected across various software platforms. 

Another survey found that the majority of mines did their reconciliations monthly as generating reports from handwritten logs were time consuming. 

With an automated system, reports can be run daily or even hourly to help prevent losses. This will help mine managers track the target productivity levels and get accurate reports.

"There is a new wave of thinking regarding mine management and it involves getting as much information as possible in as close to real time as possible. Managers want to know what's really happening so they can plan workflow more effectively and control costs while increasing production," Chisholm said. 

The systems can be used for entry-level through to advanced functionality options depending on the whether the requirement is of basic weighing information for a small loader, or greater accuracy and data capture capabilities for production-sized equipment.

"Better efficiency across mines can be achieved with automated payload monitoring and reporting."

Heavy haulage in the Pilbara

As Western Australia's mines expand, they're demanding more from haulage companies and local infrastructure, writes Andrew Duffy. 

Watching heavy machinery in action on a mine site can be a rather transfixing experience. 

Few industries can match the sheer scale of the mining sector and the size of the equipment it demands. And as production rates grow higher and higher, equipment grows larger and larger. 

While many people are impressed by the scale of equipment, few spare a thought for how it made it there in the first place. 

Whether its machinery, equipment or buildings, most of the stuff on site needs to slowly and carefully find its way there. 

And a lot of this new movement, like everything else in the industry, is starting to centre around the Pilbara region. 
Some of the expansions by iron ore companies in this region are immense, and starting to put heavy demands on local infrastructure and businesses to meet their needs. 

A number of traffic control companies specialising in moving heavy equipment are now capitalising on this increase. 

A1 Labour Management, which specialises in traffic control and moving equipment for mining companies, has been one business to see a sharp rise in demand from Pilbara miners.

Wayne O'Neil from A1 Labour Management told Logistics & Materials Handling some of the Pilbara's biggest players, including BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group, had been driving the rise in mining's heavy haulage. 
O'Neil said developments further south had also kept A1 busy. 

"With all the different expansion projects happening at the moment, from now until the end of the year we're going to be very busy with it," he said. 

"There's definitely a couple of years worth of work happening out here." 

Recently, A1 has been managing the movement of several large loads for FMG. 

"We did a lot of stuff for them with Cloudbreak and Chirstmas Creek," O'Neil explained. 

"But we've worked with a lot of different companies. We've done stuff for BHP Billiton as well as Citic Pacific. 

"In the past, we've moved equipment for the Yandi and Area C mines, and work for Jimblebar is about to start next month." 

O'Neil said demand would also rise as Hancock Prospecting's massive Roy Hill project, lead by Gina Rinehart, started construction. 

With most of this work the starting point for the equipment is Port Hedland. O'Neil said after being manufactured in China, Thailand, and other parts of Asia and the world, the equipment was shipped to the Pilbara port. 

But because of the size, moving it through the Pilbara's long narrow roads presents some challenges. 

O'Neil said sometimes the gear reached dimensions around 15 metres high and 15 metres wide, and prior to the move crews would need to clear the road to make sure the equipment would fit. And because of the safety liability, the equipment is only moved at night. 

"It's a safety issue, plus the volume of traffic is quite considerable during the day where as night it's not," O'Neil explained. 

"We mainly go down the highway at night, and it usually takes two nights to complete the delivery," he added.

MaxiTRANS partners with Freighter to create drive-through semi-trailers

MaxiTRANS recently partnered with Freighter’s engineers to supply Tri-State Transport with an easy-to-use, time saving drive-through semi-trailer combination.

Andrew Scott, Tri-State owner, worked with Mike Dawson,MaxiTRANS WA northern region sales manager, to deliver what Dawson and his team decided was required in their new trailer set – the rig would be carting a number of different vehicles for the mining sector, so the company needed a B-double set with a drive-through capability.

These new Freighters join a large fleet of equipment that has been bought with performance considerations well ahead of price.

“We make sure that we order the most reliable equipment for each job,” said Troy Day from Tri-State.

“We negotiate for our new equipment of course, but price comes after quality and service back-up on the scale of priorities. The last thing we want is for our drivers to be broken-down in the middle of the Western Australian desert due to a piece of faulty equipment. Freighter’s excellent service record was one of the major reasons why we went with them for these trailers.”

The final design had bi-fold hydraulic ramps on the back, retractable ramps between the drop-deck sections on the tag trailer and Freighter’s purpose-designed half-moon bridging decks between the tag and the lead trailer.

“This rig wasn’t bought as a lead and B-trailer – it will always operate as a single unit,” said Dawson.

“The ability to drive a vehicle up the ramps, onto the tag, and then all the way to the lead trailer makes these trailers a ‘built-for-life’ pairing and will save Tri-State a great deal of time when they are loading vehicles onto them.”
 

Newcastle looks to cut coal ship queues

Newcastle Port Corporation is aiming to dramatically cut its massive coal ship queues.

The move has been welcomed by Shipping Australia, according to The Newcastle Herald.

Last year coal ship queues reached more than 50, despite major improvements made to the Hunter Valley Coal chain to reduce logjams.

While the development of the T4 coal loader is set to alleviate some of these issues, Port Waratah Coal Services, which will build and run the coal loader, said the T4 is unlikely to be in operation until mid 2017.

Regarding the schedule delay, Port Waratah explained that "although 2015 is the first year in which capacity from T4 is needed to fulfill contracts between producers and PWCS, detailed project schedules developed during the recently completed prefeasibility and option selection phase indicate that first coal is more likely to flow through T4 in mid-2017".

According to Shipping Australia CEO Llew Russell, his organisation stated back in 2009 that a 'vessel arrival system' instituted by the port in 2010 would also do very little to cut the ship load times and queues.

"We were trying to tell [then ports minister] Joe Tripodi that it was the way the coal was bought and sold that was the problem and that slowing the ships down on the way to Newcastle was not going to do anything about demurrage," Russell said.

Over the weekend Newcastle Port Corp head Gary Webb said the focus is on how to reduce these lead times and ship numbers.
It is understood that queues of around 50 or more ships costs upwards of $500 million.

"It gets down to a better way of working and of more accurately matching loads with shipping capacity," Russell explained.

"Gary’s on the right track and we wish him well because if he gets success in these areas it could well be emulated at other ports" such as Gladstone, Abbot Point, and Hay Point in Queensland.

Clive Palmer launches Asian shipping business

Clive Palmer has created a new shipping business to service his Queensland Nickel Group's ore freight activities.

The new company is called Asia Pacific Shipping Enterprises and will operate a fleet of ships out of Singapore constructed by state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard.

The company will operate four 64,000 tonne vessels and be majority owned by Palmer's Queensland Nickel Group.

In a statement Palmer said Queensland Nickel Group was expanding its "international footprint across Asia and the South Pacific region".

The Group currently owns Palmer's nickel and cobalt refinery near Townsville, and a number of tourism and hospitality assets.

Palmer's plans to build a 21st century version of the Titanic also include CSC Jinling as lead manufacturer.

Image: Townsville Bulletin

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