Routine maintenance increases facility performance
5 June 2023
The SIMEC Mining-operated Whyalla Port has completed a successful marine ‘sweeping’ operation to remove a build-up of seabed sand.
The sweeping work earlier this year was part of routine maintenance for the GFG Alliance facility after the seabed sand had lowered water depth by up to a metre at the Port’s Outer Harbour Facility.
The sand was safely moved into deeper water, within the Port’s exclusion zone, with the use of the Edi Sweeper Tug, chartered from Polaris Marine. This vessel uses a 20-tonne sweeper bar to incrementally move the material in 20-25cm cuts.
SIMEC Mining Iron Ore Executive General Manager, Jacqui Higgins said the sweeping work had effectively lowered the seabed level to an acceptable level to give ships greater clearance when coming into Port and less disturbance to the bottom.
Lower water depth can affect efficiency when loading ships and create adverse environmental effects through turbidity.
“This was a controlled sweeping process conducted with a full risk assessment for the marine environment while we proactively consulted with the Environmental Protection Authority,” Jacqui said.
“We had buoys to monitor water quality in and around the harbour which registered only minor levels of disturbance, which only lasted a matter of minutes, during the operation.
“Congratulations to the Whyalla Port staff and contractor Polaris Marine for a successful operation that will benefit the Port and ultimately reduce impacts on the surrounding marine environment.”
Hydro surveys are now planned for the area swept and the new depths will be officially gazetted.
MAIN IMAGE: The Edi Sweeper Tug gets to work lowering the seabed.