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Jacinth-Ambrosia mine wins Consult Australia Award

The $420 million Jacinth-Ambrosia Mineral Sands Mine project, located 200 km north-west of Ceduna was delivered by Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and Iluka Resources in an integrated owner’s team alliance. This remote mine has the potential to meet 25 per cent of global demand for mineral sands.

PB and Iluka delivered the entire mine development, from the definitive feasibility study, through board approval, government approvals, EPCM (engineering, procurement, construction management) and commissioning. The project was completed months ahead of schedule and under the estimated capital cost.

Iluka is a Western Australia based miner and processor of mineral sands. The Jacinth-Ambrosia mine, 200 kilometres north west of Ceduna in South Australia is believed to have the potential to meet 25 per cent of world demand. Parsons Brinkerhoff entered into a formal project alliance with Iluka Resources in 2007 to deliver the $420 million project. The scope included the mine site development together with procurement and assembly of major plant items and upgrading of existing facilities at Port Thevenard. Work commenced in August 2007. The first shipment of HMC (heavy mineral concentrate) took place in December 2009.

The project was the first mine development in South Australia to adopt an alliance approach. Though focusing on smaller work packages, the use of mid-tier rather than large construction companies and a process of actively managing risks the project team were able to meet the tight timeframe. With 109 separate contracts, procurement expediters were engaged to help ensure that the project’s supply chain was maintained against schedule.

The involvement of operations staff in the integrated delivery team coupled with drawing on ‘best industry practice’ from other mine sites yielded valuable early input. Rigorous review processes drawing on the client’s and consultant’s resources were employed in planning and design. Risk management, schedule and program management document control and critical path monitoring were integral components of the delivery process.

A ‘zero harm’ culture was driven by senior management who viewed safety as their greatest responsibility. A rigorous approach to management of the client’s budget with a focus on ‘fit for purpose’ engineering coupled with limited delegation of financial authority enabled the management team to deliver the project at a cost 10 per cent less than the boards’ approved capital budget.

Schedule management and weekly package status reporting were key to keeping the project on track. Completion of the project took place ahead of schedule. There were no lost time incidents and no environmental license breaches in over 900,000 work hours. Engagement with local communities and stakeholders was achieved through a process involving community forums and regular briefings.

This interaction was extended to include local schools. The project was the first in a Regional Reserve in SA. The approvals process to obtain a ‘license to operate’ was subject to extensive scrutiny. Not only was the project a source of employment for the local population but it also engaged contractors and businesses from the region. The indigenous workforce exceeded the target of 20 per cent employment.

The judges commented that: "this project demonstrated true technical and organizational excellence in meeting client needs and community needs, while simultaneously achieving the technical, community and environmental goals in a complex environment."

Consult Australia is the peak industry body representing consulting companies that provide professional services to the built and natural environment. These services include design, engineering, technology and management solutions for individual consumers through to major companies in the private and public sector including local, state and federal governments.

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