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South Flank modules make highway history

BHP’s South Flank mine is making history – and not just because it will be the industry’s largest iron ore hub. The project is using modular construction techniques to speed up the build of its 145 million tonne per year ore processing hub, and the modules are some of the biggest ever delivered into the Pilbara.

Around 1500 units of all shapes and sizes, totaling 35,000 tonnes are arriving into Port Hedland. But with many up to 15 metres wide, and the largest weighing 354 tonne, getting the modules 350 kilometres from Port Hedland to South Flank is a highly complex road transport job. Two years of planning is helping this epic logistics exercise run smoothly.

The modules are assembled into convoys on heavy-lift sleds at Boodarie by transport specialist Mammoet. They travel to site at 40 kilometres per hour, and anything more than 8.5 metres wide has to move at night, which brings unique challenges.

“We’re working hard to minimise our impacts on other road users,” notes Mick Antony, BHP Port Logistics Superintendent.

“We let 180 stakeholders know the details of each convoy in advance, and work closely with local police, transport, fire and emergency services to smooth the way for both regular and emergency road users, day and night.”

Local Pilbara businesses have played their part in both planning and execution. Traffic management specialists Low Flying Pilots control the convoys, progressively closing sections of the Great Northern Highway for up to an hour as the convoy passes.

BHP has used another Hedland business, coffee truck Pilbara Flavours, to provide free hot drinks and food for road users.

“It’s been well-received, and I think it shows that BHP is not just concerned about the welfare of our team, but also the welfare of the wider community,” Mick said.

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