Aussie contractor does good business out of resources boom

News – August 8, 2008 reports that Sunshine Coast dredging contractor Hall Contracting Pty Ltd is playing a key role in the expansion of the new iron-ore port facility being established by Fortescue Metals Group at Port Hedland in Western Australia.

“Fortescue has been the outstanding Australian success story of the resources boom, capitalising on the insatiable Chinese demand for iron ore and, in the process, turning controversial entrepreneur Andrew Forrest into Australia’s richest man,” said the report.

“Just three-and-a-half years after the first discovery hole was drilled in the Pilbara, Fortescue managed to buck the odds and create the infrastructure needed to commercialise the deposit, including a 270km railway line and a new port-handling facility at Port Hedland.”

“Fortescue is now planning for a second iron-ore load-out wharf, part of its goal of achieving annual export volumes of up to 200 million tonnes,” sai the report, which is where Hall Contracting comes in.

Director Cameron Hall said the company had deployed two of its five Dutch-built cutter suction dredgers, measuring about 35m x 6m, to work around the clock to move as much as two million cubic metres of fine silt from massive tailings ponds in preparation for the arrival of one of the world’s largest dredgers to be used to create the new berth and swing basin for the iron-ore ships.

Mr Hall said the company was recommended for the contract following successful completion of a similar project in Thailand in 2003.

Mr Hall said the company’s dredging division, which had carried out projects in Australia, South East Asia and the Pacific, had been a shining light this year, at the same time that many of its civil works projects on the Coast had been sidelined because of the ongoing inclement weather.

“The first six months of the year has been a disaster for our civil contracting division … we’ve probably only done three months work. We’re a bit lucky in that our dredging division provides about 50 per cent of our revenue now,” he said. “The resources boom has actually been pretty good for us.”

“We’ve also had one of our dredges (and three huge water pumps) at the Ensham coal mine near Emerald since the floods in February … and it will probably be another month before all the water is out and they can restart work.”

The other two dredges have been involved with projects in Fiji and Newcastle.