TBB in the North West
Cape Lambert Port

Following TBB's scenario planning, Rio Tinto prepared it's Wickham townsite to cope with expansion at Cape Lambert Port, shown above. (Image Source http://www.riotinto.com/ annualreport2010/overview/group_strategy.html#)

Ever wondered how big business makes progress in the face of financial downturn? For mining giant Rio Tinto, a key strategy for success is Planning – namely Scenario Planning – with the help of Taylor Burrell Barnett.

Iron Ore ‘Downtime’ A Planning Opportunity for Rio Tinto

During 2008 – a downtime in production and market demand for iron ore – Rio Tinto had the foresight to go into ‘planning mode’. In consultation with Taylor Burrell Barnett (TBB), Rio Tinto began to model expansion scenarios and conduct much awaited planning in its North West mining towns.

As Rio’s chosen Town Planners and Urban Designers, TBB’s first task was to investigate scenarios for expansion of the Wickham townsite in the event that capacity at the nearby Cape Lambert Port might ever increase.

TBB Empowers Rio Tinto to Take Action

TBB looked at a variety of possible outcomes for Wickham and generated numerous townsite expansion options based on different workforce models. TBB’s planning services put Rio Tinto in a great position to prepare for the anticipated upturn in the global economy.

Rio’s decision-makers were now empowered with the knowledge Rio’s townsites could accommodate an increased workforce. This facilitated discussions to increase capacity at Cape Lambert Port to cope with higher production of iron ore at the mines.

Expansion Plans for Wickham

Wickham Mining Town Near Cape Lambert Port

Wickham Mining Town houses most of the workforce for Cape Lambert Port.

Rio Tinto decided to study an expansion of capacity at the Port by 50 Million Tons Per Annum (mtpa) to 283 mtpa. At this time, TBB embarked on the preparation of a Townsite Structure Plan for Wickham based on a realistic expansion from 2000 to 4000 persons, and a further expansion to 6000 people.

In parallel to this process, TBB commenced more detailed planning over the first stage development sites, identified from the earlier scenario planning exercises. This included:

  • Preparation of a Development Plan over Wickham South, to allow additional houses to be built for the permanent residents;
  • A subdivision plan (submitted as a Development Application to the Shire because, being Crown Land which was not intending to be sold, the subdivision was exempt from WAPC approval);
  • Development Applications for the redevelopment of accommodation facilities in town for the workforce employed on a fly-in/fly-out basis;
  • Development Applications for community and other town facilities, including the enhanced recreation precinct and Town Administration building.

Studies are already underway for the next phase of growth in Wickham which will see the Port increase its capacity to 353 mtpa. As a result, planning for Wickham South Stage 2 is already well underway, as is planning for further enhancement of the town centre, including high quality, two- and three-storey accommodation for FIFO workers in the centre of town and school-site concept planning in conjunction with the Department of Education.

Wickham South’s Impressive Design Earns Five EnviroDevelopment Leafs

Wickham South received certification for Ecosystems, Waste, Energy, Water and Community.

Wickham South received certification for Ecosystems, Waste, Energy, Water and Community.

The planned Wickham South development recently earned Rio Tinto an impressive five out of six EnviroDevelopment “Leafs” from the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA). Each Leaf symbolises a sustainable element in the UDIA rating system, namely ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water and community.

Sam Walsh (Director of Rio Tinto and chief executive, Iron Ore and Australia) was a guest speaker at the 2012 UDIA National Congress, where he accepted the Certification on behalf of Rio Tinto. Mr Walsh spoke about the growth of investment in Australia’s booming mining industry and its impact on the community. Rio Tinto clearly understands its social responsibility and embraces sustainable outcomes such as those defined by UDIA’s EnviroDevelopment categories.

TBB congratulates Rio Tinto on the certification and celebrates the success as our own – a reflection of TBB’s commitment to environmental sustainability and quality communities, with people-focused structure planning and “green” urban design.

Key Personnel in TBB’s Ongoing Role for Rio Tinto

Rachel Chapman has led the Rio Tinto Pilbara projects from day one, with Ben De Marchi as Lead Designer.

As the project has expanded, so has TBB’s project team. Luke Montgomery has taken on a significant planning role in the core project team, and more recently Jake Davidson and Ben Karsakis.

TBB is honoured to take on this important role for Rio Tinto in planning for growth in the Pilbara and looks forward to seeing the first new houses in Wickham South constructed in 2012/13.

Wickham’s Success Just the Beginning for Rio Tinto and Taylor Burrell Barnett

Following the success at Wickham, TBB have extended planning services into other Rio Tinto Pilbara towns, including the coastal towns of Karratha and Dampier and the inland towns of Tom Price and Paraburdoo.

Rio Tinto’s foresight has paid off at Wickham and TBB will continue to plan for Rio’s growth in the Pilbara.TBB looks forward to increasing its role in planning and designing for Rio Tinto, with development in Paraburdoo and Tom Price currently on the agenda.

More Information

Wickham South – EnviroDevelopment Certification
Wickham South EnviroDevelopment Leafs for Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto Links:

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