McConnell Dowell is pleased to announce the successful completion of the Chith Export Facility construction for Rio Tinto’s $2.6billion Amrun bauxite development on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. Through collaboration and innovation, this state-of-the-art facility has been delivered safely, efficiently and with minimal environmental impact.

About the Project 

Constructed in just 12 months by McConnell Dowell, the Chith Export Facility includes a new 650-metre long access jetty and a 350-metre long load wharf; both fully 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 world-class bauxite mine, processing plant, and port facilities.

Collaboration and Innovation 

Collaboration was a hallmark of this revolutionary marine project, which was designed by Jacobs and constructed by McConnell Dowell, with constructability oversight by Rio Tinto’s EPCM, Bechtel.

Jacobs’ design concept saw a move away from traditional stick-built to a modularised approach, with the wharf split into seven ‘jackets’ incorporating dolphins and topside modules.

This innovative jacket design reduced the number of permanent piles required 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 experienced fabricators, enabling on site jetty construction and wharf fabrication to occur concurrently and delivering safety and quality control benefits. The largest topside module weighed 1,200 tonnes. 

The jetty was constructed using McConnell Dowell’s cantilevering traveller frame with hydraulic piling gates. These temporary works were fabricated with efficiency and repeatability in mind, and productivity peaked at an impressive three days per bent. Access was incorporated into the traveller design, creating a safe work environment with no requirement for scaffold. 

Collectively, these innovations saw a reduction in high risk over-water and working at height activities and reducing overall build time by 12 months. 

In reflecting on the project’s success, Rio Tinto’s 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’s Australian Managing Director Jim Frith agreed:

“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.”

2018 Amrun project Chith Export facility