BCI Minerals Limited (BCI) has awarded a $16 million contract for a main seawater pump structure at the Mardie Salt and Potash Project, also announcing that the project’s northern embankment trial is nearly completed and construction of its southern trial pond is beginning.

The Mardie Salt and Potash Project is 100 per cent owned by Mardie Minerals Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BCI Minerals Limited. The project is developing a large-scale, solar salt production operation on the Pilbara coast of Western Australia. 

The contract for the main seawater pump structure is fully funded from BCI’s existing cash balance of $110 million as of July 2021, and has been awarded to Western Australian company, Ertech’s Geomarine business.

Ertech’s Geomarine specialises in designing and constructing near shore marine infrastructure for the resources, infrastructure and defence sectors. 

When the project is fully operational, the primary seawater pump station will pump 160GL of water into the evaporation ponds each year, equivalent to approximately 70,000 Olympic swimming pools.

The Mardie Salt and Potash Project’s investigative works are an essential precursor to main construction, to provide confidence about key assumptions, including materials availability, construction methodology, pond wall settlement, pumping rates, pond floor water retention, and cost and schedule assumptions. 

Construction of the northern embankment trial is nearing completion with only outer wall geofabric and rock-armour treatment remaining. The trial has proven the construction methodologies, demonstrated that budgeted productivity is achievable and highlighted opportunities to optimise productivity. 

At the southern trial pond, seawalls will be constructed on three sides with an internal levee separating the trial pond (future Pond 0) from future Pond 1. 

Geofabric will span the 20m width of the embankment bases to provide stability for the three-metre-high clay layer walls which will be protected from the ocean currents by rock armour. 

The southern trial pond will incorporate construction methodology, materials and equipment learnings from the northern embankment trial.

Construction of the civil works will form part of a broader contract awarded to WBHO Infrastructure in March 2021, which includes the northern embankment trial, southern trial pond, and after full regulatory and access approvals, Pond 1 and Pond 2. 

The work involves the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of all the detailed earthworks, piling, structural steel, concrete, mechanical and electrical installations required to accommodate and operate six 3,000L per second pumps within the pump structure.

Main construction of the project can only commence when BCI has received approval from the Western Australian Minister for Environment, as well as associated secondary approvals, including when final tenure and funding have been secured. 

BCI anticipates all these to be in place by late 2021.

To support investigative early works, expansion of the 80-bed exploration camp is proceeding. Fabrication of buildings is underway, and the first units have been delivered to site with village contractor, McNally Mining and Resources, commencing excavation for utilities and building foundations. 

Commissioning of central facilities and the additional 120 rooms is scheduled for Q4 2021 and will bring total rooms to 200.

Following final regulatory approvals, the village will be further expanded to 400 beds to accommodate peak workforce during main construction. 

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