At some of Australia’s most ambitious mining projects, one local company’s innovative product is helping to save time and money.
A 22-year-old family business based in Western Australia (WA), Roundel supplies corrugated metal pipes and bolted, corrugated-plate structures that are used in road and rail infrastructure, natural resource and construction projects.
This includes Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri mine project in the Pilbara. Construction on the $2.6 billion mine commenced earlier this year, with the first production expected to begin by the end of 2021.
The mine will have a capacity of 43 million tonnes per year, but before any iron ore can be extracted from the ground, the mining and metals company needed to put the right infrastructure in place and connect Koodaideri to its existing rail network.
Enter Roundel, which secured the on-site culvert supply for the Koodaideri rail project. In recent years, the team at Roundel has developed a protective coating system for steel culverts, which substantially improves the abrasion resistance and lifespan performance of the products.
Known as high performance laminate, or HPL, the product is a heavy duty, polyethylene-coated galvanised steel that has been tested to provide a 100-year lifespan.
Inspiration for the coating came from the desire to solve a common problem, Roundel Managing Director Bev Byard told create.
“We were looking to achieve greater durability and tested a number of PE coatings,” he said.
“The HPL is by far the best we have come across. The reinforced PE layer provides considerable additional protection to the underlying Z600 galvanising, resulting in a substantially increased lifespan of the culverts, even in the most aggressive conditions.”
Unlike other PE-coated steels, HPL has a reinforcement layer within the polymer that provides high resistance to abrasion, harsh environmental conditions and surface damage — making it suitable for projects in the Pilbara. And when tested against another commercially available PE coating, Roundel’s HPL was found to wear at less than half the rate of the other pipe.
As part of the Koodaideri rail project, Roundel has manufactured 4,500 tonnes of HPL PE-coated culverts on-site, and Byard said Rio Tinto’s adoption of the product was testament to its superiority.
“We’ve made probably one of the only significant changes to the product in the last 50 years,” he said.
“The significance of us persuading Rio Tinto to use this product is very high. They wouldn’t have taken it on unless it was really high quality and met their requirements.”
As well as the reinforced PE layer that extends the lifespan of the culverts, the firm had another winning pitch – its extensive experience in on-site manufacturing for larger projects using its specialised mobile pipe mills, and experienced crews.
This provides a range of benefits, Byard said.
“Transportation costs are reduced substantially, longer lengths can be manufactured, thereby reducing installation costs, and last-minute design changes can be quickly accommodated,” he said.
“Our on-site experience goes back decades, but we introduced our state-of-the-art mobile pipe mills into Australia in 2010. Since then, we have manufactured over 16,000 tonnes of steel culverts in remote areas, such as the Pilbara and northern Queensland.”
As well as it’s on-site capabilities, Roundel also manufactures the Stilcor corrugated metal pipes at its Perth and Tom Price plants in WA, in Townsville and Capella in Queensland.
For more information about Roundel’s range, click here.