BHP (Formerly BHP Billiton Iron Ore)
Pilbara Region, WA, Australia

Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Growth Programme

Fluor, as part of a joint venture with SKM, provided engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services and programme managed a series of multi-billion dollar projects for BHP Billiton Iron Ore (BHPBIO) in Western Australia since 2001. The joint venture was initially named the Mine and Port Development Joint Venture (MPDJV), and later renamed in 2008 to Fluor and SKM Iron Ore Joint Venture (FAST). The Fluor-led joint venture was engaged by BHPBIO to assist in the execution of its iron ore expansion projects to increase mining, processing, rail transportation, stockpiling and ship loading capabilities across BHP Billiton's Pilbara iron ore assets. The joint venture was also responsible for conducting feasibility studies for BHPBIO's proposed future growth plans.

The MPDJV / FAST health, safety and environmental philosophy were based upon BHPBIO's goal of Zero Harm to people, the environment and community. Through various programs individuals were empowered to take a more active and positive role in ensuring their own safety as well as the safety of others.

The Programme received numerous awards, including:

  • Fluor Hugh Coble Project Excellence Award 2004
  • Institute of Engineers Australia National Award 2004 (Rail Project)
  • Railway Technical Society of Australasia (RTSA) Biennial Industry Award 2004
  • WA Engineering Excellence Awards 2004 (Rail and Mine/Port Projects)


Client's Challenge

BHP Billiton's growth programme was driven by many market factors:

  • ‘Speed to market' to capitalise on the high iron ore demand driven primarily by China
  • Deliver an expansion ‘programme' rather than a series of stand-alone projects
  • The need for a dependable EPCM service provider during the boom times of the Western Australia economy

Fluor's Solution

Key innovative execution approaches that Fluor initiated as programme manager included:

  • Dispersed execution using global high-value engineering centres
  • Centralised engineering group to implement standard designs and specifications across projects
  • Large-scale modularisation to reduce on-site construction workforce requirements
  • Development of key supplier relationships to leverage the programme's purchasing power
  • Development of strategic construction contracts to lock in long-term construction capacity
  • Establishment of a functional group to provide standardisation and consistency across projects

The projects were delivered in the Pilbara, which is a remote arid work environment with a hot climate where extreme temperatures (+45 degrees C) are experienced. Tropical cyclones are also a common threat in the Pilbara region.

The initial Mining Area C (MAC) and Products and Capacity Expansion (PACE) projects received Fluor's Hugh Coble Project Excellence Award in 2004. The award is based on outstanding performance in several areas including safety, value creation, and Client and community relations.

The benefits to BHP Billiton included:

  • Rapid expansion in capacity of BHP Billiton's iron ore facilities, and protecting its market share of the iron ore demand largely driven by China
  • Programme management approach with knowledge and expertise retained, developed and transferred from one project to the next
  • Access to a large, skilled, global workforce to support the effort required for the concurrent development of mega projects



The Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Growth Programme almost tripled BHPBIO's production capacity over a 15 year period through the completion of ten major projects including MAC, PACE, the Rapid Growth Projects (RGP2, RGP3, RGP4, and RGP5), Orebody 24 (OB24), Jimblebar Project, Port Hedland Inner Harbour Project (PHIHP) and the Shiploader Replacement Project. Refer to the table below for more details on these projects.

The Fluor-led joint venture successfully executed one of the world's largest multi-billion dollar expansion programmes, with projects consistently delivered on schedule and on budget, and assisted BHP Billiton in strengthening its position as one of the world's leading iron ore producers.

WAIO Growth Programme – Project Summary

Project     Description Year Completed

Mining Area C (MAC)

New development of a mine, processing facility and infrastructure at ‘C Deposit' to produce MAC lump and fines (15 Mtpa).

The project also included the construction of 39km railway traversing between Area C and existing Yandi rail infrastructure.


Products and Capacity Expansion (PACE)

Upgrades to port and rail operations including the addition and extension of railway sidings, a fourth shipping berth and iron ore processing and stockpiling facilities in a new ‘Western' Stockyard at Finucane Island.


Rapid Growth Project 2 (RGP2)

Development of new mine at Orebody 18 including ore handling plant, non process infrastructure and services. Modifications to Orebody 24 mine to produce lump and fine products.

Port upgraded with the construction of a new car dumper (Car Dumper 4).

Construction of additional rail to support the new mine and car dumper.



Development of new mine at ‘E Deposit', construction of new overland conveyor from E Deposit to Area C, and construction of new crushing and screening facilities and second blending yard at Area C.

Expansion of the port with car dumper and conveyor upgrades at Nelson Point, and Berth C upgrades at Finucane Island.

Rail expansion work included new rail mainline and spur sidings, and loop modifications at Area C.



Mine development including the construction of a new ore processing plant at Jimblebar (Wheelarra), ore handling upgrades at Yandi, and a new crushing and screening plant, additional stockyards, car dumping and train loading facilities at Mt Whaleback (Newman Hub).

Port expansion including car dumper upgrade at Nelson Point, stockyard upgrades, construction of new offices, warehouse, and workshops at Finucane Island, plus general infrastructure upgrades to reduce dust emissions.

Rail development including additional mainline sidings.



Expansion of the Yandi Mining Hub including the construction of a new 45 Mtpa ore handling plant (OHP3) and tie-in to the existing OHP2, plus the construction of supporting non process infrastructure.

Port expansion with the construction of two new berths
(G & H) and two new shiploaders (7 & 8) at Finucane Island, plus car dumper modifications and conveyor route upgrades.

Rail development including extensive upgrades to a dual rail track system.


Orebody 24 (OB24)

Construction of Orebody 24 mine ore handling plant, non process infrastructure and services to replace the Jimblebar Wheelarra 4 primary crushed ore supply to Newman Hub (14 Mtpa).


Jimblebar Project

Construction of a new mine ore handling plant (35 Mtpa), 1,500 room accommodation village and support facilities.


Port Hedland Inner Harbour Project (PHIHP)

Port construction of two additional berths, two new shiploaders, a car dumper, and port blending optimisation infrastructure.


Shiploader Replacement Project

Replacement of existing shiploaders SL1 & SL2 and wharf conveyors on Berths A & B, plus other associated wharf infrastructure and utilities at Nelson Point.