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Article published by Australian Bulk Handling Review

Fenner Dunlop speaks to ABHR about how its local manufacturing centre was critical to winning a multimillion-dollar supply contract.

In 2018, BHP approved one of the largest iron ore operations in the world. The $4.7 billion South Flank project is expected to produce 80 million tonnes of iron ore per year and create more 3000 jobs.

It also aims to enhance the average quality of the company’s Western Australian iron ore production from 61 per cent to 62 per cent, and the overall proportion of lump from 25 per cent to around 35 per cent.

The project will involve building a new crushing and screening plant, stockyard and train loading facility, procuring a new mining fleet, a substantial mine development and an overland conveyor belt.

BHP estimates around 85 per cent of the project’s spend will be awarded to companies based in Australia, with around 90 per cent of the contracts going to companies in Western Australia.

Fenner Dunlop Australia was one such business as it was recently awarded a $16 million contract to manufacture and deliver around 50 kilometres of low rolling-resistance conveyor belt for the project’s overland conveyor belt package.

One of the key reasons Fenner Dunlop was selected was due to its Kwinana manufacturing plant in Perth.

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of Fenner Dunlop’s Kwinana plant, which was specifically built for the production of steel cord belting. The $70 million state of the art manufacturing facility is one of the largest investments in conveyor belt manufacturing ever made in Australia.

“The ability to manufacture in WA and be so close to mine sites offers speed to market and supply chain security for Fenner Dunlop’s customer base,” Trevor Svenson, Fenner Dunlop’s General Manager, Sales and Marketing says.

The company is one of the only companies to manufacture a complete range of conveyor belts for all mining applications locally.

Its Kwinana plant houses one of the world’s largest steel cord press, calender and related equipment and has the capability to produce steel cord and rubber ply belting up to 3200 millimetres wide and up to 50 millimetres thick. This gives the facility an annual production capacity of 330,000 square metres, approximately 130 kilometres of 3200-millimetre belt.

Scott Ryan, Fenner Dunlop's Project Manager, says the company is proud to be an Australian manufacturer supporting the major project.

“Fenner Dunlop has manufacturing centres located around Australia, with the oldest located in the Melbourne suburb of West Footscray, which has been making conveyor belts for more than 100 years.”

“Our Kwinana plant was strategically located, as iron ore projects are the biggest customers of steel cord belt. It just makes sense to also have the manufacturing facilities located close to this core market.

“Delivery times and freight costs are often much lower when sourcing from a local business and you also have the assurance of after-sales support that operates in the same time zone as you.”

The manufacturing plant also includes a testing and research and development laboratory to ensure product compliance with strict local, international and customer nominated standards. It is also home to the mechanical practice training facility, designed for new mechanical technicians to undertake on-the-job conveyor belt maintenance training.

“We’re looking forward to working with BHP on this new project, improving their conveyor performance and supporting them in the expansion of their operations,” Mr Ryan said.

“2019 is shaping up to be a big year for Fenner Dunlop as the company continues to increase sales. Kwinana is currently working 24-7 to keep up with the order books, which is thanks to our dedicated team that always try to provide quality products and the best possible service.”

South Flank’s Overland Conveyor Belt project is expected to be completed in December this year.