Manufacturing in WA gets a boost with 140 new iron ore railcar order

Monica Gameng   |   October 23, 2022
UGL Bassendean facility (cr: CIMIC Group)

BHP has announced that it will build up to 140 new ‘flat pack’ iron ore cars in a manufacturing facility in Perth, Western Australia over the next four years. 

This commitment will further boost the Western Australian Government’s initiative to reviving the local engineering and steel fabrication sector. 

“BHP makes a significant contribution to the WA economy, and we want to keep building and strengthening that contribution through more local manufacturing. 

“Through this investment we will support the WA manufacturing sector to strengthen its capability and create new opportunities for business growth and local employment,” BHP’s Asset President WA Iron Ore Brandon Craige said. 

An initial trial was conducted, and it saw the shipment of iron ore car components from QRRS’s factory in China to a facility in Western Australia where the ‘flat packs’ are going to be put together before the railcars are delivered to BHP’s Pilbara operations. 

“As a long-term supplier of BHP, QRRS will continue to support all projects that BHP is involved in. We are pleased to take this partnership further and supply more good products and service to BHP,” QRRS Managing Director Zhang Quanyong said. 

The assembly, welding and commissioning of the iron ore cars are going to be done in UGL’s Bassendean facility, which will help develop the State’s capability for establishing an iron ore car industry. 

The initial stage of the railcar manufacturing project with 20 wagons is due to be completed in early 2023. 

“UGL is Australia’s largest rail company and has had a presence in Western Australia for more than 70 years. 

“We are proud to be the only Australian manufacturer of freight locomotives and we’re pleased to extend this capability through the re-introduction of wagon assembly into Australia, and particularly in Western Australia. 

“We look forward to continuing this program with BHP and creating a strong and sustainable wagon assembly capability in the State,” UGL Managing Director Doug Moss said. 

This project also reflects the State Government’s commitment to boosting local manufacturing through the Iron Ore Railcar Wagons Manufacturing and Maintenance Action Group. 

The establishment of this Group follows an independent report that was commissioned by the Western Australian Government that found a strong case to create an iron ore railcar component of the State’s manufacturing industry. 

“This project is a testament to the work of our Iron Ore Railcar Wagons Manufacturing and Maintenance Action Group, which is committed to boosting local manufacturing and securing local jobs. 

“I’m pleased to see BHP, QRRS and UGL collaborate on this industry-first initiative and look forward to seeing its capability build into a sustainable and long-term project,” Premier Mark McGowan said. 

The report was delivered by registered Aboriginal business Keogh Bay and it identified opportunities related to the manufacture and service of rolling stock for grains and minerals transport. 

The result of the study forms the first step in securing a pipeline of work for the long-term vision of the manufacture of iron ore railcar wagons that has the potential to create jobs and deliver economic benefit for Western Australia. 

The State Government has established a $15 million Local Manufacturing Investment Fund to help existing businesses in the construction of iron ore wagons locally as part of the WA Jobs Plan. 

“The McGowan Government is working closely with the mining industry and suppliers to create local manufacturing capability for iron ore railcar wagons at sites across the State. 

“This new industry will create local jobs and establish manufacturing capability that diversifies our economy. 

“We have moved a step closer in our long-term plan to bring an important element of the resources supply chain onto WA soil for the benefit of mining companies and successive generations of Western Australians,” State Development, Jobs and Trade Minister Roger Cook said. 

Source: Government of Western Australia – Media Statements; BHP; UGL Limited; CIMIC Group 

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Monica Gameng
As Felix's Marketing Assistant since 2015, Monica is responsible for researching and sharing new and progressing projects within the construction and mining sectors in Australia. It's no surprise that Monica has her finger on the pulse of Australian major projects given she has produced more than 1,000 posts. She truly is an industry expert.
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