AUSTRALIAN construction firm John Holland has laid the final section of track as part of its work to construct a 143km heavy haul line to Fortescue Metals’ Eliwana mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.  

“The safe unloading of the last long-weld rail off the final rail train for the Eliwana project was a significant moment for us,” says John Holland rail delivery manager, Mr John Ma. “It’s a huge undertaking - more than 240,000 sleepers were laid as well as 400,000 tonnes of ballast dropped with more than 12,000 welds joining the rails together. "

John Holland will now focus on final destressing works for 130km of the track, siding extension works, final grinding and correction. The company says that final ballasting and tamping work for about 60km of track is also on schedule.  

The track works are part of a $A 130m ($US 98.4m) contract awarded by Fortescue Metals in mid-2020, which also includes the design, manufacture and installation of signalling equipment and train control systems for the line. 

Remaining track work is scheduled to be completed by late June, while signalling installation will be complete by the end of August. Testing and integration of the track will be finalised in December. John Holland says the signalling and communications works are ahead of schedule and will also be completed at the end of the year. 

The finished line will connect the Eliwana iron-ore mine to the existing 620km Fortescue Hamersley Line to Port Hedland. The line is expected to be a key channel for the transport of iron-ore from the mine, which produced its first ore in December 2020 and is expected to generate 30 million tonnes per annum at full capacity. 

“Working in a remote and often volatile environment has its challenges, but I am proud that the team was able to demonstrate our capability to manage complex logistics and high-production welding facilities while enabling efficient project delivery,” says Ma. “It’s no secret that the mining and construction industry is playing a big role in boosting Western Australia’s economy and we are pleased to partner with Fortescue to deliver this world-class iron-ore project.” 

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