Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, Freight Rail

From rail to sea: Dust control at Queensland’s new coal terminal

WICET stockpiles. Photo: WICET

PHOTOS: Environmental impact on the surrounding community was a key consideration during construction of the new Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET). So from the rail unloading facility, all the way to the shiploader, the site is built to limit dust.

WICET made its first shipment of coal, amounting to 73,000 tonnes, in late April. A $3bn, 27mtpa facility, with considerable scope for expansion, WICET is built to provide additional export capacity at the Port of Gladstone, to service new mines and expansion of existing mines in the Surat and southern Bowen Basins.

It’s a green field coal terminal on Golding Point, located west of the existing RG Tanna Coal Terminal. The offshore wharf and loading facilities are situated north of Wiggins Island, adjacent to the Targinie Channel.

The rail unloading facilities are located immediately south of the North Coast Line and are connected to the Golding Point stockyard via a long overland conveyor.

The new WICET terminal was deliberately situated outside the built-up areas of Gladstone in order to reduce community noise and dust impacts. Coal trains to and from WICET bypass built-up areas of Gladstone.

The rail receival station is enclosed in order to increase operational efficiency and uses duplicated negative pressure bag filter systems to optimise air quality.


WICET rail unloading facility. Photo: WICET
Photo: WICET


An on-line moisture monitor analyses all arriving coal. When required, automatic sprays apply additional recycled water before coal is transported along the overland conveyor to the stockyard.

The overland conveyor structure, which transports up to 8250 tonnes of coal every hour, includes a tight-fitting wrap-around roof along its entire 5.6km length, to prevent strong winds creating dust. In fact, most elevated conveyors at the site are fitted with roofs, floors and walls on the windward side to shield product coal from strong winds.


WICET conveyor. Photo: WICET
Photo: WICET


WICET’s current stockpile area is around 1.25km by 535m, and is configured for 12 notional stockpiles in 2 rows, with an on-ground storage capacity of roughly 1.89 million tonnes of coal. The facility’s gantry stacker can automatically place coal anywhere on the footprint, and telescopic chutes which deposit the coal are fitted with internal counter-flow misting sprays which use recycled water to control dust during coal placement.

51 hi-flow water cannons are situated around the perimeter of the stockyard and along both sides of the central gantry, and are used to control dust in dry and/or windy weather. The stockyard’s water cannon control system uses real-time data such as wind-borne dust levels, and meteorological data such as wind speed, direction, air temperature and relative humidity, to activate groups of water cannons in defined patterns or sequences.


WICET water cannons. Photo: WICET
Photo: WICET


The final stage of the export process is the 1.8km jetty conveyor, which is fitted with a roof, a wall on the windward side, and a floor. The shiploader can operate at 8500 tonnes per hour, and its boom is also fitted with a roof, a floor and a wall.

All wharf conveyors are fitted with floors to catch coal spills, and the wharf conveyor tripper discharge chute contains a dust control spray system, which treats coal before it passes onto the ship-loader boom conveyor, and then down the loading chute into the ship’s hold.


WICET shiploader. Photo: WICET
Photo: WICET


This article originally appeared in Rail Express sister publication, the Australian Bulk Handling Review.