An era over

Some stories of site while I’m feeling nostalgic on my last (planned) flight out of Boolgeeda.

Naming Convention
We’ve had a few stories on naming events on this Project and a theme is beginning to emerge. Lets see if we can spot it.

Wade wrote us a wonderful construction notice back in the days when no one knew any of the road names – to be fair no one knows them now, but people were more inclined to get lost then. The notice stated that you had to go down the overland conveyor, Pat the Primary Crusher, and past turkeys nest zero. In the whole thing there was one key missing letter. Richard, the Deputy Registered Manager (yep – not even the boss man) named the primary crusher ‘Pat’. Its not even a piece of infrastructure that Pilbara EPCM built, he named someone else’s construction. Goose.

Graham is a wonderful designer. He designed Ho Weir. Immortalised in the Pilbara EPCM newsletter. It isn’t a weir at all. Its a bit of concrete that protects both the road and a power pole. Lets not consider the fact that the power pole is planned to be redundant some time soon. There is a heck of a lot of water that runs through the 1 in 50 year drain then needs to turn at ~90 degrees around the edge of the road. Don’t you love it when designers forget that all that water will flow pretty fast, and maybe some sort of protection will be needed? The pain and deliberations poor Hoey went thru while designing the weir makes it one of those memorable moments.

Speaking of the 1 in 50 year drain…Bonnys Canyon… Bonny does an awesome job as the dewatering superintendent, shes an impressive woman. When the project is ‘Nammuldi Below Water Table’, getting (and keeping) the water out is a darned good idea and somewhat crucial. There was a 1 in 100 year drain along the B2-B4 road, it was quite a drain. But when the mine plan changed and more flow was directed towards the rail, the drain was upgraded and designed for the 1 in 50 year flood event. Its quite a drain: a good 50m wide at its base for over a kilometer; with 2 sets of 11 barrel 1800mm diameter culverts; and about 3.5km long. Its a very very big drain. Bonny demanded a 1 in 50 year drain – not sure she bargained for something quite so epic.

A long time ago, feels like forever but it’s probably only 12 to 18 months, we hit white snot. Technically unsuitable material, something about high calcrete content – smarter people than me tell me that it will dissolve when exposed to water regardless of compaction or some such unpalatable outcome. With its properties it seemed perfect for the inner layer of the dam; keep the process plant water on the right side. So the contractor asked the question and started moving ~30000m3 into the basin in preparation. Our geotech on site was Doyle (I’m sure you can see where this is going), he did his math and decided that the contractor was onto a good thing. By the time he told us it was too late, they’d built the core with ‘suitable’ material and we’re were left with Mt Doyle in the middle of the dam. Everyone has asked the question: doesn’t it reduces the capacity? Nope, the basin was a lovely borrow and they’d removed about 900000m3 for other works; plenty of capacity.

Mount Nammuldi is a significantly bigger pile of white snot. At the time we were told that the sister project wasn’t going ahead. Turns out it is and now Mount Nammuldi may be in the way of future works. Oops.

Super trench was a super pain. Think about 800m long, 2m deep, and up to 6m wide. Difficult to build when the drawings show a lovely plan, but no depth. We managed to get some details from the design team and a lot of pressure from the follow on contractor so the guys dug a big trench. Of course the followers weren’t as ready as they thought they were and it sat there for a few weeks. Open. Of course….it rained. Thankfully it all stood up and the damage was minimal. Waiting for it to dry out was probably the worst.

So in pursuit of the main aim, ore on train, there was a slight miss match between the plant operational date and ore on train date. Turns out the only way that we’d get ore on train is if processed ore was trucked in from Brockman 2. Operations, under the coordination of Corey, came thru and delivered 5 trains worth of ore, but there was a little (unintentional) sabotage going on in there… Corey Rock ended up being picked up by the reclaimer and dumped on the train load out conveyor…oops. It made a few dents in the conveyor belt. Thankfully it was repairable.
Projects presented Corey with the rock and a naming plaque to commemorate the occasion.


A couple of more recent naming events.
Roosters crossing. I still struggle to understand how he managed to convince everyone, from the rail possession experts to the operators, that approval had been given. Rooster immortalised himself with that crossing. Freebs stepped in and sorted it all out though, mister rail, he knows all the rail nuances these days!

And finally a Silvergrass (renamed Nammuldi Incremental Tonnage – NIT) story. I openly profess to know little of the technical world, but I am aware water flows downhill and making lakes next to roads is not a great idea. I’m not sure how two culverts with a hill between are expected to both flow under the adjacent road without some sort of drain or culverts. Add a little rain and Lake Cresswell was born. I’m looking forward to a pic of that one when it gets fixed, I hope it isn’t rock in that hill.

The earthworks crews have some interesting names in themselves. Turtle (David is his real name…how dull) is quote gung ho. If you need mass fill smashed in he’s your man. You want it to be only as big as the design? How boring! Everything he built is a little big. Fatty embankments was one of them, and no the stockyard berms cannot be 300mm fat, that’s a significant loss of storage capacity over an 800m length of stockpiles.

So I’m sure you’ve worked out the theme now…Most named places / things / events are named for some sort of pain. And now for a few more stories that have come to mind thus far.

In which Freebs finds a pair
So we’ve already had a rainy day post about Freebs and his…youthful innocence. This one is the one time I’ve ever seen him stand up for himself. The kid has a post prestart ritual of butter and vegemite biscuits. He brings the components and knife and prepares at his (paper covered) desk. One groundhog day he was buttering away and Josh came by, threatening to steal one. This wasn’t a rare occurrence, most people teased him about stealing them. For some unknown reason this time he snapped at Josh, who jumped back in shock. The room turned to Freebs and applauded. Haven’t seen him get angry at anyone since.

Tappy Tap Tap
Somehow the earthworks contractor convinced the company that they’re great at concrete. They may be, but the team that arrived had a few complications. The job was to install the rails for the stackers and reclaimer to run along. 4.8km of concrete beams and rail with base plates every 600mm (Lars correct me if I have forgotten the spacing!). The base plates require grouting to the concrete [insert technical jargon as to why here], with full contact. The best way to test the connectivity, tap the plate to see if it sounds ‘drummy’. Kwan is a brilliant structural engineer. The poor guy was mobilised to site and immediately whisked out to drum test thousands of base plates. I’m positive that wasn’t in the position description he signed up to. But, like everything else, he took it in his stride and captured the most artistic shot of the project – the feature photo for this post.

The Joker and Jasmine
Hoey, lovely accommodating engineer that he is, enjoys an occasional jasmine tea. One afternoon he was asked about his tea and he told us why he enjoys it. I piped up with something like ‘plus Jasmine is hot’. He started playing that one up a bit; he was about to fly out and getting all crazy, as we all do. Little did he realise that he’d return to a desk looking like this. 105 small jasmines placed, taped, hidden around his desk plus one giant sized on the ceiling.


Don’t worry, the cheeky lad got Lars and I back. He swapped keys on our keyboards. Lars’ was easy, s and d swapped so when he logged in he got lard.hansen. Too easy. I on the other hand had the k and l keys swapped. I’m no touch typist, but I can usually type my password the first time or two without looking. Nope. Fail. Then I watch the keys as I type P I L B A R A nope, ‘account deactivated’. So I call IT, get reactivated, and new password. A simple one. Nope. Concentrate, fail. Go again. W E L C O M E 1 ‘Account deactivated’. Infuriating! I call up again and get reactivated and try again. Laptop off the docking station and I’m in! Put the laptop in sleep, on the dock, and try to log in. Fail. FFS! Then I decided to compare the keyboards. The second password was Welcome02. You’re in trouble Hoey.


I went for the classic retaliation, glad wrap everything.

So this is Coops, aka Miss C, aka super Cooper, aka Coopy, aka Miss Nammuldi (and they’re just the names people will say in my presence) signing off and leaving site.
The place put on a lovely farewell sunrise for me today and everything.


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