Dockwise Ltd. has been selected as the contractor of choice for the transport of 15 onshore modules for the Koniambo Nickel Project in New Caledonia.

The project is being developed by Koniambo Nickel SAS, a joint venture between Soci’t’ Mini’re du Sud Pacifique (SMSP), and Xstrata Nickel. The Koniambo Project includes the construction of a metallurgical facility in the northern part of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Major project facilities include the mine, the process plant, a power station, water supply facilities, a port, ore and coal storage stockpiles, slag and ash stockpiles, and overland ore conveyors.

The modules for the process plant have been constructed at the COOEC yard in Qingdao, China. After their completion, the single modules will be transported by Dockwise to the new plant site near Vavouto, New Caledonia, via multiple consecutive voyages. After the 15 modules are transported inland to the Koniambo Nickel site, they will be joined into one huge nickel processing plant.

The Koniambo plant will be one of the largest nickel producers in the world and remains on track for first ore to be processed in mid-2012, ramping up to annual capacity of 60,000 tonnes of nickel in ferronickel within the following two years. In addition, future expansion could take advantage of the large resource base, which has an estimated life of more than 50 years.

To ensure the safe execution of this project, Dockwise’s scope of work includes the detailed engineering of grillages and sea fastenings to ensure safe transport of the modules across the swells of the Pacific Ocean.

Dockwise’s skilled team of engineers provided the innovative solutions needed for a critical aspect of this transport: resolving the ballasting challenges of keeping a large vessel level with the quayside during the load out, in which the tall modules are rolled on by means of self-propelled modular transport (SPMT) at the COOEC yard in Qingdao, China, where a considerable tidal range exists. Throughout the project Dockwise’s China based engineers closely cooperate with COOEC representatives.