Billions at stake with South Flank

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph

More than 100 hi-vis clad workers welcomed BHP’s Port Hedland general manager Michael Bailey as he opened the supplier information session for the proposed South Flank project, with a share of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending potentially available.

Mr Bailey and project director Simon Thomas discussed supplier opportunities, procurement and business support programs for the project, at ibis Styles Hotel last Thursday.

Forums in Newman and Perth attracted about 80 and 350 people respectively, with a peak construction workforce of several thousand contractors, and thousands of ongoing indirect and direct jobs on the table if approved by BHP’s board later this year.

Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Carter said there was a waiting list just for the supplier session.

“I think it’s great for the town — they (BHP) have already spent $200 million (in initial funding) on this thing so I think it’s likely to go ahead,” he said.

“We are looking at billions of dollars in infrastructure investment — it’s good, there’s a lot of stuff going on and opportunities there”.

The proposed South Flank mine near Newman has received environmental approval and could expand BHP’s existing Mining Area C Hub, create up to 2500 construction jobs and replace production from the 80 million tonne a year Yandi mine as it reaches the end of its economic life.

The estimated $US3.6 billion project would lift BHP’s lump production from 25 per cent to 35 per cent of its ore mix, attracting a price premium given China’s stricter environmental policies, with the first ore for South Flank targeted in 2021.

Mr Thomas said of the initial work completed on South Flank to date, about 94 per cent had been awarded to companies within Western Australia.

Last month, Perth engineering and construction company Clough was announced as an early works engineering, procurement, and construction contractor to progress the non-process infrastructure for the South Flank project.

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