Refinery Crane Upgrade

The Olympic Dam ER Refinery is critically reliant upon its two 32-metre span gantry cranes, the JP Crane and the EDI Crane. These cranes load copper anodes from the smelter into the refinery’s 768 individual electrolytic cells and, upon completion of the electrolysis process, the cranes remove the 99.99% copper cathodes from the electrolyte tanks and load them into the Cathode Stripping Machine.

The EDI Crane approached its end of life in 2018 and was intended to be replaced by a modern, custom built crane by Kunz in Austria. This crane would be smarter, faster and more accurate with it’s movements thanks to automatic laser positioning. This hardware will eventually allow the crane to be automated and driverless.

BHP Olympic Dam Asset President Jennifer Purdie said: “The new refinery crane will improve operational stability and reliability in our refinery, allowing us to operate more safely and efficiently, and support increased production volumes over the long term.

“Copper cathode from Olympic Dam is sought-after for its quality and purity, and will be increasingly in demand as an essential product for global decarbonisation.

“This project shows BHP’s commitment to our long-term future in South Australia by continuing to make significant investments, creating local jobs and opportunities for regional businesses.”

ICE Engineering managed E&I construction and installation of the Kunz crane and assisted directly with commissioning of the crane until it’s final handover to BHP Operations. ICE Then assisted with the removal and demolition of the now-redundant EDI Crane.

The construction process was extremely challenging for all disciplines as the entire construction took place within an operating refinery that aims to produce >200kT of Copper per annum.

ICE Engineering are now still at the Olympic Dam Refinery 2 years on completing E&I construction of the new Cathode Stripping Machine. We have become known for our abilities at challenging E&I construction in this area of the site and are proud to continue with future projects here.

Project Sub-Tasks:

  • Upgrade to crane LV Supply cabling
  • Complete wiring of Kunz Crane to Australian Standards
  • Modifications and laser fitment to existing JP Crane
  • Assistance with insertion of Kunz Crane into Refinery Building
  • Ongoing work in commissioning team for Kunz Crane and handover to BHP Operations
  • Assistance with removal of EDI crane from Refinery Building
  • Demolition of redundant EDI Crane