Bechtel first began work at Port Waratah's Coal Services' port in southeastern Australia in 1999. The final stage delivered one of the world’s largest coal-handling operations—the $300 million-plus Kooragang Expansion Project (KEP 145)―Bechtel’s fifth Kooragang terminal expansion. The projects, with a total value of $1.6 billion, nearly doubled Kooragang’s annual capacity from 77 million metric tons to 145 million metric tons (the tonnage accounts for the name KEP 145).
Innovation to protect the environment
The KEP 145 team pioneered the use of recharge wells to dispose of construction-derived water. The dewatering and recharge wells enabled the project team to complete an underground rail-dump station and conveyor tunnel that adhered to the local government’s very stringent environmental regulations.
The team minimized the amount of water pumped and optimized the recharge system in the way that it sequenced construction, designed the dewatering wells, selected particular pumps, controlled clogging (by particulate matter, precipitation of hydroxides, and bacterial growth), and operated and maintained the entire system, which comprised:
- 31 dewatering wells
- 15 well pumps
- 2 buffer ponds
- 12 relay pumps
- 184 recharge wells
- 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) of aboveground piping
Inside the project
Kooragang is a 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year operation that can receive, stockpile, and load coal on three ships simultaneously, and berth five ships at once. Port Waratah Coal Services exports the commodity through Kooragang from more than 30 mines in Australia’s Hunter Valley region.
The most recent of our projects at Port Waratah, KEP 145, entailed expanding a coal-receiving facility and adding a new arrival rail track, three new departure rail tracks, and other facilities. The result: annual throughput capacity of 145 million metric tons at one of the world's largest coal-handling complexes.
Australian coal exported through the Port Waratah complex goes primarily to Japan (about half), China, South Korea, and Taiwan. The coal fuels the economies of those nations and, in turn, benefits trading partners.
Eight consecutive years of safe performance
From 2005 to 2013, Bechtel teams worked 5.4 million job hours without a single lost-time incident.