Asbestos Management on Manuwarra Red Dog Highway

The project, part of a wider program of works on the newly named Manuwarra Red Dog Highway, provides safer road access for tourists and local road users. These works improve access to both Millstream Chichester and Karijini national parks helping boost tourist traffic in the heart of the Pilbara whilst also delivering productivity benefits for the mining industry.

In October 2018, prior to contract award, site investigations uncovered the largest asbestos contamination ever found on one of our worksites. The project team worked with key stakeholders including Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and the Department of Health to undertake remediation work prior to and manage the contamination during construction.

An extensive Asbestos Management Plan was developed, with a parallel detour track offered for use by Rio Tinto to ensure road worker and road user safety, and construction productivity. Permission to use the Rio Tinto track was testament to the strong relationship our Pilbara region has developed with the company in recent years.

Just over 18,000 cubic metres of surface and sub-surface asbestos was removed pre-construction, at a cost of $4.5 million. The management and clean-up process has provided us with learnings that will ensure any future contaminations are met with the highest and most appropriate level of management reporting, training and record keeping, while ensuring health risks and the safety of road users is minimised.

During construction, more than 100 direct and indirect job opportunities were created for both local and non-local Aboriginal people and businesses, with the team responsible for managing significant material logistics including:

  • 615,650 tonnes of crushed rock material for pavement construction, with an average carting lead of 137 kilometres
  • 266,770 tonnes of gravel for subgrade construction
  • 592,835 litres of bitumen (from Perth) for sealing
  • 2,515 tonnes of concrete batched and placed for drainage structures
  • 7,960 tonnes of locally sourced rock for rock protection
  • 210,984 cubic metres of fill excavated from on-site borrow pits.

With Stage 3 complete, our focus now shifts to construction of the fourth 110 km and final stage of the 270-kilometre long highway. Once complete, road users travelling between Karratha and Tom Price will save more than 2.5 hours of travel time compared to the previous, unsealed route. The new road will also help boost tourist traffic while providing improved connectivity between Karratha, Roebourne, Tom Price, Paraburdoo and Newman, and better access to hospitals, medical services, local businesses, shopping and service centres.