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SunWater – Making water work for mining

In simpler times, water management meant lifting the dam gate, removing a channel board or opening up a pipeline valve to ensure water users had access to supply.

That’s the way it was done when SunWater was first established in the small Central Queensland cotton growing town of Theodore more than 80 years ago.

But times have changed.

Water users, particularly from the mining sector, are demanding more complex water management solutions and services than ever before.

And why shouldn’t they — their entire industry would grind to a dusty halt without water — so ensuring the right water management solutions are in place is paramount to Queensland’s resource industry success story.

SunWater understands this.

In fact, with more than 80 years of experience in the delivery of bulk water, there is no other water company in Queensland that understands it better.

It’s why so many of today’s existing mines and increasingly tomorrow’s new mining ventures, are swift to secure SunWater’s services when it comes to providing strategic water solutions to meet their needs.

But expertly managing water and providing critical water supply solutions is not a skill any water company can buy in — it needs to be earned.

SunWater staff are some of the most qualified in the nation, thanks to their involvement in the development of more than 30 major dams, 63 weirs and a network of more than 2600km of water pipelines across regional Queensland.

The team at SunWater are driven by innovation and motivated by success, which is an invaluable trait when you are in charge of delivering more than 1.3 million megalitres of water, some 40% of Queensland’s commercial requirements, to a portfolio of 5000 clients.

Via regional and metropolitan hubs, SunWater taps into decades of localised knowledge that spans industries from mining, energy, urban and agricultural.

And it’s with this intricate knowledge that they can provide solutions that deliver cost efficiencies for mining operators at the same time as providing solutions that work for the environment, local communities and government.

It’s what SunWater does — makes water work.

They’re not the only ones who think so. SunWater’s success with some of its early projects has been key in building its portfolio of external asset management contracts with some of Queensland’s major mining operations.

Whilst the main driver for mining operators to engage SunWater to manage their water infrastructure assets is cost efficiency, SunWater’s clients have comfort in the knowledge that established water managers are looking after their valuable assets and are capable of delivering on agreed water supply commitments.

It’s no wonder why mining operators are selecting SunWater to build and operate their assets.

Day in, day out SunWater provides a high level of water supply security through its $7 billion asset base of water infrastructure, assets which have been key to underpinning industrial developments right across regional Queensland.

As integral to industrial production as water itself, SunWater’s asset base is continually expanding through an infrastructure development program that aims to increase capacity and cut short the days of commercial operators scrambling to shore up water security.

It’s all part of the SunWater ideology — delivering today, securing tomorrow.

With the knowledge and experience of one of Australia’s leading water infrastructure companies, SunWater is meeting future supply needs now, planning more than $2 billion in regional bulk water infrastructure projects in Queensland over the coming year.

It’s with this foresight and focus on the future that SunWater has shown the mining industry its water management solutions tackle not just the daily cycle of water, but the higher task of providing a reliable water supply to last the life of a mine.

Years before the much publicised mining boom swept across regional Queensland, SunWater was actively investigating strategic infrastructure developments to deliver water supply solutions in the Bowen, Surat and Galilee basins for new and established miners.

In the case of the Bowen, Surat and Galilee mining basins, SunWater’s experience and ongoing focus on planning for industrial water supply needs has given miners confidence that water infrastructure won’t be an issue for their projects anytime in the near future.

By working in parallel with the Queensland Government’s Central Queensland Regional Water Supply Strategy, SunWater is increasing its capacity to deliver water supply and build on its strategic bulk water infrastructure network throughout regional Queensland.

This is demonstrated through major SunWater projects like the Connors River Dam and Pipeline, Moranbah- Alpha Pipeline and the Nathan Dam and Pipelines.

Connors River Dam and Pipeline project
A $1.5 billion infrastructure project, the Connors River Dam and Pipeline project is leading SunWater’s infrastructure development program to meet the increasing demand for water in Central Queensland’s booming mining basins.

Located on the Connors River near Mount Bridget, approximately 110km due east of Moranbah and 70km south of Sarina, the proposed 373,622ML dam and 133km pipeline will deliver up to 50,000ML of additional water supply to the mining basins.

SunWater’s investment in the proposed large scale infrastructure will provide the necessary water security that the mining industry needs to achieve their goals and meet the forecasted global demand for coal.

Mining operators are all too aware of the importance of securing a reliable water supply to facilitate their future production capabilities and it’s no different to those in the Bowen basin.

Such is the region’s thirst for water, 84% of the available water allocations from the proposed Connors River Dam and Pipeline project were secured by mining operators within days of hitting the market mid 2010.

This level of commitment has meant that SunWater is now able to confidently move in to the pre-construction phase of detailed design engineering, construction procurement and finalisation of the investment decision.

Construction of the proposed dam and pipeline is expected to commence in early 2012, with completion and commissioning planned in 2014.

Moranbah to Alpha Pipeline project
A critical project to meet forecasted demand in the Galilee the development of a 276km pipeline stretching bewtween the towns Moranbah and Alpha.

If approved, the Moranbah to Alpha Pipeline will assist in meeting the forecasted demand for water by commercial mining operations and provide a reliable supply to the town of Alpha.

Supplying up to 25,000ML per annum to mining operators and urban customers in the Alpha region, the common user pipeline is likely to be underpinned by long-term supply contracts with some of Central Queensland’s largest mining operators.

It is estimated that the water transported by the Moranbah to Alpha Pipeline will support approximately 80 mtpa of additional regional coal production for output.

Whilst the pipeline will provide the majority of water to commercial mining operations, water will also be made available to supplement Alpha’s town water supply located within the Barcaldine local government area.

Construction of the proposed pipeline is expected to commence in early 2012 and be completed by late 2013, with first water supplied to customers from March 2014.

Nathan Dam and Pipelines project
Further South, SunWater is also undertaking a major initiative that aims to provide long-term, reliable water supplies to mining customers with the proposed development of the Nathan Dam and Pipelines project in the Surat Basin.

Located just upstream of Nathan Gorge on the Dawson River, the proposed dam is expected to have a capacity of up to 888,000ML and will be supported by a 260km pipeline running through the Surat Basin.

In addition to the Surat mining basin, water from the proposed Nathan Dam is also earmarked to address critical water supply needs in the Lower Fitzroy and other parts of Queensland in line with the Government’s objective to establish a state water grid.

If approved, construction of the proposed dam and pipeline is expected to commence early 2013, with completion and commissioning planned for 2015.

In addition to SunWater’s own infrastructure program, the organisation is drawing from their experience in key projects outlined above to assist major mining and energy operators develop sustainable water management plans and infrastructure to optimise their operations.

SunWater’s full cycle approach to water management means that everything from design and construction, to treatment, supply and beneficial use strategies is thoroghly planned and executed.

More information on SunWater and how they can deliver total water management solutions for mining operations can be found at www.sunwater.com.au

SunWater’s total water management solutions for mining operations include;

> Bulk water planning

> Sale and lease of water allocations

> Water infrastructure development (for the supply and transportation of water), including:

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Compliance and approvals
  • Indigenous land use agreements
  • Cultural heritage management plans
  • Environmental management and preparation of Environmental Impact Statements to meet Government requirements
  • End-to-end project management
  • Flood hydrology
  • Construction management
  • Development of handover and operations documentation

> Design and cons truction of pump stations

> Design and construction of water treatment plants and associated facilities

> Facilities management services

> Facilities management services

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