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Sino Iron Ore desalination plant

The first large desalination plant for a resources project in Western Australia

CITIC Pacific Mining
Contract Value
$130M AUD
Project Duration
Estimated Completion
Cape Preston, Western Australia
Project Overview

The Sino iron ore project is the largest magnetite mining and processing operation under construction in Australia. The project is focused on delivering a world class magnetite iron ore development which will add value to the Western Australian economy. Once operating, the project will mine about 140 million tonnes each year and the processing plant will handle approximately 80 million tonnes of material.

UGL supported CITIC Pacific Mining in the delivery of a number of essential pieces of infrastructure for the project including a desalination plant.

The Challenge

The challenge for CITIC Pacific Mining was to find a supplier who could deliver a comprehensive mining infrastructure solution to provide a platform for its immediate and future growth objectives. CITIC Pacific Mining required an integrated solution from a desalination plant transmission lines to the construction of a complete power station.

CITIC Pacific Mining recognised the essential need to construct a large scale desalination plant to provide process water for use in transporting iron ore slurry from the mine site to the out loading facility. For the plant to be successful, it would require sophisticated filtration technology to supply process water at a capacity of 140 megalitres per day, equivalent to the water contained in 56 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

This was the world’s first desalination plant of its size to be constructed from precast modular sub-elements which included:

  • 5,000 m3 of concrete
  • 3.5 km of underground piping
  • 60,000 man hours
  • The installation of 450 precast elements
The Solution

UGL’s in-house engineering resources, expertise across multiple technical disciplines and our niche completions capability have been key to our engagement on this project.

UGL was engaged in a number of capacities including the construction and commissioning of a 51 gigalitre desalination plant which has a similar capacity to Perth’s Seawater desalination plant.

UGL’s scope of work in achieving this solution included construction services, and management of the site which included the responsibility of safety, quality and environment and industrial relations, commissioning and performance testing. UGL was also called upon for engineering solutions as required and the completion of plant manuals and quality assurance documentation.

UGL also constructed the desalination plant concrete foundations, designed and built an operations workshop and installed underground Glass-fibre Reinforced Plastic (GRP) pipes.

Key Outcomes and Benefits
  • UGL’s step-by-step collaborative approach to the project gave certainty in achieving the necessary outcomes.
  • The project demonstrated UGL’s ability to successfully deliver a project in this remote region, overcoming complex mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and control challenges. UGL’s project team transferred valuable knowledge and lessons learnt while constructing the plant to the operations team.
  • UGL’s extensive experience enabled the project to overcome key environmental challenges through successful hydrocarbon, chemical and waste management within the bounds of a highly sensitive marine environment known for its biodiversity.
  • Our strong history of delivering complex mining projects through the utilisation of our fabrication, construction and electrical capabilities together with our project management experience has put the Sino iron ore project on track for its first shipment of iron ore.
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