Leighton and MacMahon land $500m Pilbara rail contract

Leighton Contractors has won part of a $500 million contract from BHP Billiton Iron Ore to build new Pilbara railway

By Samantha Freestone

Leighton Holdings subsidiary Leighton Contractors has won part of a $500 million contract from BHP Billiton Iron Ore to build the new Pilbara railway in Western Australia.

The joint venture will duplicate 220 km of the existing heavy haul rail line between Port Headland and Shaw Siding along the existing BHP Billiton Iron Ore Newman/Yandi line, allowing BHP Billiton to meet increasing overseas demand for iron ore.

The project also includes the installation of 840 kilometres of fibre optic cable and the construction of 10 new dual track bridges.

The project will be delivered by Leighton Contractors Western Region Construction and supported by the Leighton Contractors National Rail Group, Ngarda Civil and Mining and Visionstream, together with MVM Rail, a subsidiary of Macmahon Contractors.

Managing Director of Leighton Contractors Peter McMorrow says the contract enhances the company’s strong relationship with BHP Billiton Iron Ore.

"Leighton Contractors has extensive experience at BHP Billiton Iron Ore operations in the Pilbara and, in partnership with Macmahon, is very well positioned to deliver this significant project", he says.

"We look forward to bringing the multi-disciplinary expertise of our construction, national rail group and telecommunications divisions to the joint venture to deliver the best possible outcome for BHP Billiton Iron Ore".

General Manager of Leighton Contractors Western Region Construction Ray Sputore says the win is significant for the company because it will allow the company to grow in Western Australia.

BHP Billiton awarded the contract amid concerns over the running of its iron ore mine, where five employees have died since July last year.

BHP Billiton Iron Ore President Ian Ashby says the incident is "unacceptable to the business" and has had an enormous impact on many lives.

"We are deeply saddened by the deaths within our Western Australia iron ore business and we are doing everything we can to identify the causes and take action to prevent further tragedies," he says.

BHP Billiton senior executives met with the West Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore last month to discuss the company’s recent safety performance.

BHP says an extensive, independent expert investigation of safety systems at all Western Australia iron ore operations is already underway.

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