McArthur River, Northern Territory, Australia

McArthur River Mine and Port

Fluor provided engineering, procurement and construction management for the McArthur River mine, port and ship-loading facilities. A 60-meter wide, four-kilometer channel was dredged to barge the concentrate from the port to the bulk carrier.

Client's Challenge

At McArthur River, MIM and its joint ventures had charge of one of the world's largest zinc/lead ore deposits. But nature had not put it in the most convenient of spots: 120 kilometers inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The best way to get the concentrate to world markets was by ship. A new port was built at Bing Bong, but because the Gulf is so shallow, seagoing bulk carriers had to anchor 30 kilometers offshore.

The local prawning industry and the presence of Gulf sea grass and the dugong population that feeds on it prompted the Northern Territory and Federal Governments to impose environmental restrictions on the port's construction and the dredging. The usual dredging method would have been detrimental to the prawn population and the sea grasses, so dredged material was pumped ashore through ten kilometers of piping.

Fluor's Solution

Fluor designed the facilities to withstand cyclones and flooding. Construction was planned bearing in mind the extreme weather conditions and the area's two seasons, wet and dry, and the regular threat of cyclones.

As the channel was created, material was pumped onshore to a site near the port, where it was spread and allowed to settle for re-vegetation. All this was achieved in six months, between May and October, to avoid interfering with the prawn breeding season.


The project was handed over to the client two months ahead of schedule and five per cent less than the approved budget. The Bing Bong Port Project was awarded the Northern Territory Earth Award.