WHILE much of the business sector is focused on the Burrup Peninsula, another development project is quietly progressing, 450 kilometres inland of Port Hedland.
The $1.2 billion Telfer expansion project is more than one third of the way through and on track for its completion in the September quarter of 2004.
It is understood that the bulk of the earthworks part of the project is finished and it will soon be time for the main plant construction to begin.
At its completion, Newcrest Mining’s Telfer operation will be the largest mine in Australia, boasting both open-cut and underground operations.
Stage one of the works will cost $976 million and result in the open-cut operation and some of the underground works.
Stage two is expected to cost $215 million and will comprise the remainder of the underground shafts.
When it is completed the mine is expected to produce, through its lifetime, 800,000 ounces of gold and 30,000 ounces of copper.
Concentrate will be produced and filtered and then loaded onto trucks for transport to ship loading facilities at Port Hedland.
Recent reports have as many as 40 cranes operating on site drawn from companies such as Boom Logisitics and Tom’s Cranes.
At its peak the project will have a construction workforce of 1,200 and about 400 production staff.
At the moment there are 350 construction workers on site, along with the 400-strong plant crew.
While the mine is not yet working, the plant crew is working its way through some early samples from the mine site. The project is also proving to be a boon for local engineering companies.
GRD Minproc secured a key role on the project in December, operating as part of the MHL joint venture that also includes Hatch and Lycopodium, which are involved with the construction of a new process plant.
RCR Tomlinson is also understood to have landed some work from the Telfer project.
GRD Minproc has had a close involvement in the project from early stages, undertaking test work programs, preliminary feasibility studies and a definitive feasibility study for the treatment plant.
One potential blip on the Telfer horizon is the risk of industrial action as the project moves into the main construction phase and metal workers start to come on site.
Many of these workers are expected to come from the Woodside Train 4 project on the Burrup Peninsula.
ACTU organiser Will Tracey said there were some problems on site regarding the construction workers’ camp facilities.
“The problem is you will have guys coming off the Burrup to work here. There’s going to be a blue over the state of the camp,” he said.
However, Newcrest spokes-man Peter Reeve said the company was not expecting there to be any problems with the camp.
“It has the capacity to house the entire workforce. There is no problem from our point of view,” he said.
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