Rio Tinto Alcan’s Gove Alumina Refinery, located near the Township of Nhulunbuy on the north east tip of the Northern Territory, commenced the refinement of bauxite to alumina in 1972. To meet the growing demand, it was proposed to expand the refinery’s alumina production capacity from 2.1 to 3.75 Mt per annum. Due to its isolation and the project size, it was obvious establishing a camp to service traditional stick built construction was prohibitive. Other strategies had to be investigated.
The Gove Refinery is strategically located on the Australian northern tip coastline in close proximity to South-East Asia. After a careful cost benefit analysis, the use of Pre-Assembled Modules was chosen as the most cost effective construction technique. This involved fabricating complete structural modules including associated equipment, piping systems and pre-commissioning at an Asian site and shipping and installing in position as a complete facility. This had the definite advantage of reducing construction time, minimising the impact of labour shortage & working on site, and thus alleviating risk of injury from site congestion.
This paper covers critical issues in accessing this construction technique and the experience gained by the structural design team. Emphasis will be placed on logistical issues as well as structural design considerations for not only in service conditions but also accelerations from the sea voyage and road transportation.