Major miners turn to Coerco for liquid management solutions

Coerco - March 2024

Mining and civil engineers are increasingly turning to COERCO for liquid management solutions for a range of major projects across Australia.

COERCO, widely known for manufacturing industry-leading poly tanks, has successfully expanded its capabilities since it was founded more than 30 years ago.

The company can take care of all aspects of liquid management and storage covering prefabricated and customised solutions for process water, potable water, chemicals and waste systems.

Its broad range of solutions can be divided into three main divisions: contain; float; and, move.

Well-planned liquid storage & distribution is essential for the mining and civil industry.
Whether you require a single tank for storing potable water or a more complex system for mixing or processing, COERCO can offer a solution.

COERCO can provide specialised pump support systems for tailings, decant and process water operations, including pontoons, strainers and intakes, pipe/ cable float systems, floating walkways, and access gangways, to list a few.

COERCO can also provide liquid transport and dust suppression solutions, enabling you to safely and easily transport and distribute liquid around your site and further afield.

Recently, COERCO played a key role in the development of the A$777M Kidston Hydro Project, approximately 400 kilometres inland from Townsville in Far-North Queensland.

The project is the first pumped storage hydro project in the country for over 40 years, which is being built for Genex Power.

The Kidston Hydro Project, led by construction contractor McConnell Dowell – John Holland (MDJH JV), involved moving 30 gigalitres of water from the Eldridge Pit into the new Wises Dam.

With the given information, COERCO developed some concepts before agreeing on some configurations and the final design which was ultimately fabricated by COERCO.

Will Hefferan, surface works area manager for the project, said COERCO responded well to the challenges.

“It’s been really easy working with COERCO,” Mr Hefferan said.

“Whenever I need some information from them, they’re easily accessible to call or chat with or send an email through and receive the information.

“If I had a job requiring a similar solution, I’d like to seek a solution from them.

“It’s been very enjoyable working with COERCO, and as you can see with the solution we’ve got there, it all came to fruition pretty well,” Mr Hefferan said.

Cameron Green, surface works area manager for the project, said the team was given a 300-day construction window to move the water to the upper reservoir.
“That’s dictated some fairly large pumps with a combined mass of about 60 tonnes,” Mr Green said.”

“We’ve engaged COERCO to provide that floating solution for that pump system and we had a few key performance elements.”

“One, obviously the stability of the pontoon and its ability to carry the weight of the pumps safely.”

“We wanted a durable pontoon, we wanted input on constructability, we wanted a modular system that could easily be transported to the site across some challenging roads.”

“We wanted a system that we could put together with the available resources onsite and within the limitations of the site, which ultimately resulted in the modular pontoon.”

“Given we need to pull 180 meters of water from within the pit, an elaborate winching system had to be developed to allow the pontoon to be descended, as the water level dropped that 180 meters.”

Other major projects COERCO has recently been involved in include the construction and delivery of large-volume septic tanks at Giralia Station and Nyinggulu Coastal Reserve, near Exmouth, in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, about 1,200-kilometres north of Perth.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions engaged COERCO to provide Giralia Station with one septic tank with a minimum capacity of 31,000 litres and two more septic tanks with a minimum apacity of 27,000 litres each.

The Nyinggulu Coastal Reserve needed one septic tank with a minimum capacity of 31,000 litres and three additional septic tanks with a minimum capacity of 27,000 litres each.

Additionally, the tanks we required to have specific features, including a large capacity for servicing dump station dump points, direct mounting compatibility for dump points, light weight, durability, weather resistance, an inspection cap, an easily accessible pump outlet, and road transportability.

COERCO was also contracted by BHP to custom build a 5,000-litre diesel transfer tank for use in their site workshop at the Mount Keith Mine in Wiluna, in the Mid- West region of Western Australia, on the edge of the Western Desert about 1,000-kilometres northeast of Perth.

Leveraging expertise in diesel and chemical storage, COERCO’s engineering team devised an efficient, economical and safe solution to overcome BHP’s diesel storage challenge.

COERCO, a West Australian company formerly called Rapid Plastics, has come a long way since 1993 when it largely supplied to the animal and stock markets.

The company has significantly expanded its scope over the last three decades to provide holistic project delivery services to the mining industry, from expert consulting, system design and engineering, right through to the manufacture and delivery of specialised equipment.

COERCO’s vast range of products and services has made it invaluable to its mining, civil and heavy industry clients.

Daniel Rignall, COERCO sales manager (resources), said the company has spent the last three decades developing an unmatched understanding of all aspects of liquid management and storage.

“Our large product base allows us to quickly turn around solutions as required,” Mr Rignall said.”

“If something does not fit the requirement as our standard offering, we have the ability to customise and engineer a solution.”

“We are agile throughout the process from start to finish and this allows us to offer the client shorter lead times because what we’re supplying is within specifications, in a very dynamic environment.”

“When the goal posts of a project move, as they inevitably do in mining, we have the ability to move with them.”

“Although we have direct competition in the different facets of what we do, we are the only ones to bring it all together and offer the complete service,” he said.

“For example, a mining camp may need industrial process tanks, fuel transport, a sewage and wastewater management solution and a pontoon pump system.”

Gareth Wallis, COERCO divisional manager, said the fact COERCO can provide a single point of contact for various requirements saves the client from engaging with multiple suppliers and separates COERCO from others in the space.

“Our vertical integration model for project delivery including in-house design and engineering, raw polyethylene processing, moulding and steel fabrication, allows us to pass on cost savings otherwise sapped up in middlemen processes,” Mr Wallis said.

“We alleviate the friction in the project delivery phase by managing sections of the overall scope that are often left unattended until they are time critical.”

COERCO has the expertise to navigate complex regulations and compliance requirements such as those that exist around the installation of septic systems, according to Mr Wallis.

“Septic tank regulations, such as those that deal with environmental assessments, can actually impede overall project delivery times. Because it’s what we do, we are able to satisfy the requirements quickly because we don’t need to go away and work it out.”

“Project engineers might be doing this sort of work intermittently whereas we are doing it every day, so we have the ability to get the client what they need, when they want it.”

In-house Capability

COERCO has predominantly been a poly-based product manufacturer, most commonly known for manufacturing poly tanks but has significantly widened its scope over the years to service the mining and heavy industrial markets and has also moved into steel fabrication to support the poly product range.

Civil construction services include liquid transportation and water delivery equipment.

And as the company’s range has expanded, so too has its reach.

It now has three factories in WA with its main poly manufacturing facility and head office in Dalwallinu, which is about 250km north of Perth and ideally situated to service the mines in the Pilbara and northern areas.

The two other factories in Northam and Bunbury are predominantly for steel fabrication.

It also has an office in Malaga, to better service the needs of mining companies, many of which are headquartered in Perth.

Polyethylene inherently has a longer service life than alternative materials and is still predominant in COERCO’s product offering.

“We continually invest in finding solutions to project requirements and our capacity in hybrid manufacturing processes (PE and steel) allows us to customise to greater extents than a traditional supplier,” Daniel Rignall said.

“A manufacturer who is just doing poly would then have to look for someone to align themselves with, or the reverse.

“We can integrate and customise a lot of what we do to greater extents than others might be able to.”

The Team

COERCO now employs a diverse team of 150 fulltime staff at multiple locations throughout Australia.

As well as an operations team in its poly manufacturing and steel fabrication facilities, COERCO has its own in-house modifications team including a team of 10 qualified polyethylene welders who focus on customising products based on clients’ requirements.

A highly skilled design and engineering team, including chartered engineers and draftsmen backed by a team of project managers, allows COERCO to meet the everchanging requirements of resource and mining projects.

Its technical expertise in Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) allows the team to address complex engineering design problems and de-risk project delivery.

The sales team come from a variety of backgrounds including specialist supply to the oil and gas industry and the mining resource sectors, which brings a wealth of relevant experience to tackle challenges faced by clients.

An in-house team of 16 logistics management and transport operators manages COERCO’s specialised transport fleet, so it does not rely on third parties.

Last but not least, management is the same as it was 30 years ago, therefore the company has a great deal of combined experience, stability and longevity.

‘’Key stakeholders of the company are still involved on a day-to-day basis,’’ Daniel said.

“We are still a family-run WA business that has been around for 30 years and it is a very close-knit team with a great culture.”

‘’This allows us to be flexible and responsive to change.’’

A Total Solution

COERCO’s diverse team and the wealth of experience and knowledge it is able to draw on means the company is much more than solely a tank manufacturer.

It can offer a complete service, from the feasibility stage right up to and including the delivery of specialised equipment that has been custom designed and manufactured in-house.

COERCO is in its element when it is assisting EPC companies to complete turnkey projects by simplifying the demands of finding reliable, engineered liquid management solutions.

COERCO can prepare budget estimates, data, engineering and 3D drawings to prepare feasibility studies and a scope of works.

“We have fully chartered engineers and draftsmen who have the skills needed to keep the entire package managed inhouse,” Mr Rignall said.

“We can also assist the client’s designers and help them with writing specifications and support their teams to support sections of the scope of works.”

“We can provide the scope within the specifications required, adhering to all the regulations and standards.”

“We often do jobs for clients that they need doing at the last minute when they’re scrambling to piece a project together.”

“Their resources are much better applied to what they are good at to ensure the deliverables for the client are met or exceeded.”

“No two projects are the same so there is a lot of customisation required and design and engineering work behind that.”

“So the client can literally hand us a section of the project and say: ‘We want something that suits XYZ parameters’ and we will go away and provide them a complete package based on that.”