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Matting solution that sped up Mt. Isa rail repair is finalist for Australia’s key mining award

An innovative matting system that helped slash the repair time needed for the key Mount Isa rail line devastated by cyclone last year has been shortlisted as one of the finalists for the 2020 Australia Mining Prospects Awards.


JWA Oilfield Supplies’ Dura-base Composite Matting system, which was used to create temporary access roads for urgent rail remediation following a crippling flood in Queensland early last year, was one of four finalists shortlisted in the Innovative Mining Solution category.


Companies shortlisted in other award categories this year include BHP Billiton Group, New Hope Group and Yancoal Australia Ltd.


Click here for a video footage of how Dura-base mats accelerated repair works at Mt. Isa.


Mount Isa rail line in Queensland state is one of Australia’s minerals export lifelines, connecting miners in the north-west minerals province to Townsville Port, the country’s top zinc, copper, lead and fertiliser export terminal. 


The rail line suffered severe damage after cyclone Oma hit the region in February 2019; wrecking over 200 sites across a third of the 1,000 km route. Repair works also included the retrieval of a mineral wagon which was washed away in the flood.


Operator Queensland Rail, based on the previous repair timeline of flood-related derailments using conventional methods, initially estimated that repairs would take six months, a lengthy supply disruption that would have dealt an immense blow to key exporters such as Glencore and Incitec Pivot.


But the use of Dura-base composite mats as a solution to create temporary roads through the flooded area meant that the recovery crew no longer needed to waste precious time waiting for the ground to dry before starting work.


The Dura-base unique application, along with the government’s fast-track directive, allowed Mt Isa rail line to re-open in just 11 weeks, shaving off at least 13 weeks, or 3 months, from the earlier estimated timeline.

With estimates that the economic fallout of Mt. Isa rail shut in stood at some A$10 million per week, the use of Dura-base matting solution to accelerate the repair translated to an estimated savings of A$130 million.


Conventional methods, such as building a bypass track using crushed rocks or gravels, would have taken a far longer time as it needed dry land and could not be re-used. Given the scale of the flood at Julia Creek, the use of rocks was also unfeasible at extremely mushy grounds as it would not be able to support the weight of heavy equipment.  


Dura-base matting used to create access road and launchpad for recovery of derailed wagon


Benefits of Dura-base composite matting sytem include:

  • Dura-base was used to create 3.9 linear km of access roads to support repair operations and a further 1.9 linear km for carriage recovery for the 2019 remediation work.


  • Rail service crews did not need to wait for the site to dry before accessing affected areas.


  • Minimises risk of downtime from bogged equipment on soft grounds.


  • Mats can easily be reused across multiple sites while conventional roads cannot be moved


  • Eliminates the need for single-use material such as crush rock and gravel


  • Easily cleaned and reusable over multiple locations, no costly treatment and disposal needed.


  • Minimal topsoil disturbance as mats act as a protect barrier from machines on environmentally sensitive sites


Dura-base mats used on on flooded areas to create access roads for vehicles and machinery

“For the mining industry, each day of lost production or exports can amount to millions in lost income. That is why JWA is dedicated to providing solutions that will help solve transport disruptions quickly,” said Hensley Wee, General Manager at JWA Oilfield Supplies.


A similar flood damage to the Mt Isa rail line from Torrens Creek to Prairie early this year also prompted Queensland Rail to use the Dura-base matting system again. 


The rapid deployment of weatherproof access gave the fleet of excavators, bulldozers, compactors and trucks an early start for repair works and allowed the rail line to reopen a week ahead of schedule on 10 Feb 2020.


Recognising the importance of the Mount Isa line to the state’s economy, the Queensland government has committed $380 million over the next five years to maintain and upgrade the line.


About JWA Oilfield Supplies 

JWA is an Australian company committed to providing innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions to the resources and industrial sectors. Our company has supported major energy and infrastructure projects across the country, including the construction of LNG projects, road and rail programs and renewable developments.