BHP Car Dumper Project

Mining Aurecon, Civmec & Monadelphous Port Hedland
ConsultingDimensional Control & MetrologyGeospatial & Digital


The iron ore industry runs on rail. It’s a reality that makes Car Dumpers – rotating cells moving material from rail cars to port storage – essential to smooth and efficient mining operations. In 2022, as BHP’s existing twin-single cell car dumper approached the end of service life at the Finucane Island Port Ore Handling Facility, a new-design single tandem cell car dumper was commissioned for replacement.

RM Surveys was delighted to assist BHP and project partners with various survey services for this ongoing project.

Image: State Library of Western Australia Aerial photographs of Finucane Island

Strategy & Consulting

Applying 15 Years of Knowledge.

The resources industry is an ever-evolving beast. Best practice one year may be impossible the next. So, while our team has an unrivalled depth of experience in Car Dumper renewals—having been involved in the fabrication of every new Car Dumper across WA for 15 years—the technology and methodology of Car Dumper fabrication and installation have changed dramatically since the completion of the last one on Finucane Island. The innovative new design of the single tandem cell added further complexity to the project.

We assisted BHP and project partners Aurecon (engineering consultants), Civmec (Car Dumper fabricators), and Monadelphous in establishing an initial scope of work. This would undoubtedly change and shift as the project progressed but allowed for the mitigation of known risks and informed preliminary timelines and workflows.

Feasibility & Planning

Getting the Foundations Right.

Monadelphous approached our Geospatial and Digital team to identify the best transport route for the new Car Dumper’s two main components – the cell cage and end rings. Upon completion, the new Car Dumper will need to be transported approximately 30km from Pilbara Port Authority (PPA) Berth 2 to the installation site (CD4) on Finucane Island: a challenge made even trickier given the new cell design. The new single tandem cell Car Dumper is significantly larger than the twin-single cell it is replacing.

RM Surveys has unrivalled experience in the dimensional control and inspection of car dumpers, having been involved in the fabrication and assembly of every new West Australian-made car dumper over the last 15 years.

- Luke Howell, RM Surveys Survey Manager - Dimensional Control & Metrology

Installation Site Scan – Precise
Engineering Team

The installation site dataset would go on to inform design specifications, fabrication tolerances, and ongoing performance and longevity. It was critical that the supplied data was complete and free
from error.

Our Precise Engineering team are one of only two Precise Engineering specialists in Western Australia, and the first in Australia to receive National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation. The installation site survey consisted of the above and below ground scanning and utilised leading dimension control technologies – including laser tracking, total stations, and portable CMMS – and Spatial Analyzer software to deliver a highly accurate and verifiable metrological dataset containing 6 billion points of spatial measurement.

Route Survey – Geospatial and Digital Team

The size and weight of the 34,320mm long vehicle transporting the Car Dumper made getting from Point A to Point B far from straightforward. Choosing the wrong transport route could result in delays, damage to the asset or crucial public transit routes, and disruption to town life. Our role was to provide documentation to the client in order to select the route of least impact.

There were two potential routes:

  1. transporting the cell cage and end rings separately, or
  2. transporting the cell cage and rings together.

Desktop research in the first stage of work assessed route viability against the location of mapped natural and built assets – such as streetlights, trees, bridges, culverts, and street signs – and the need for modifications. Possible modifications included the removal of streetlights, changing road gradients with fill, filing down railway crossings, and traffic management should the vehicle towing the Car Dumper need to drive on the opposite side of the road. It was imperative to the success of the project that modifications were kept to a minimum as each alteration was likely to cause disruption to town life and frustration for other companies operating in the regions.

A survey vehicle with a global positioning system (GPS) located any remaining assets and map road levels, and a following swept analysis evaluated the space required for the vehicle to make turning manoeuvrers. Laser scanning at the installation site identified what adjustments would be needed ahead of time to fit the structure into place upon arrival.

Our role was to provide documentation to the client in order to select the route of least impact.


Providing Essential, Ongoing Oversight.

The installation site dataset with over 6 billion points of spatial measurement was delivered to BHP in early 2023. This would act as a definitive foundation for the design, engineering drawings, 3D modelling, and testing of the new single tandem cell Car Dumper, which is due for fabrication and installation by 2026.

We continue to work directly with the BHP to review designs and identify areas of concern that would impact safe and efficient transportation and installation.