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New Zealand's biggest port project ramps up

New Zealand's biggest port project ramps up

The pace has stepped up at New Zealand's biggest port infrastructure project with major reclamation work and shipping lane deepening starting this month.

In Stage One of the project, Ports of Auckland is extending its Axis Fergusson container terminal by about five hectares, at a cost of $55 million, using a newly commissioned "land-making machine". A barge-mounted dredger is also moving out into the Rangitoto Channel to deepen the commercial shipping lane.

The new container handling land is being constructed using up to 500,000 cubic metres of marine sediment from the commercial shipping lane deepening. Approximately 2,000 cubic metres of dredgings per day will be mudcreted (mixed with cement) and placed as environmentally friendly fill for about half of the terminal expansion.

"The commissioning of the mudcrete machine and the associated channel dredging means we will see real progress on the reclamation. This time next year the first two hectares of reclamation will be completed and ready for use," says Ben Chrystall, Ports of Auckland's General Manager Port Infrastructure.

The Axis Fergusson container terminal, with its container capacity of 350,000 containers, is being extended by a total of 9.4 hectares to provide for the future container handling needs of Ports of Auckland's shipping line customers. The initial five hectares (Stage One) of the reclamation will provide an additional 100,000 container capacity and is being completed progressively over the next two to three years. The second half of the reclamation will be completed over a longer period of time using port maintenance dredgings.

The shipping lane deepening is required in order to widen the tidal window for larger containerships such as those now calling at the port and also to provide for the next generation of vessels expected in the future. These ships will be able to call at almost all stages of the tide.

The major reclamation and dredging work getting underway follows the successful completion of initial work - the mechanical excavation of the hard Parnell grit rock from the commercial shipping lane. No blasting was necessary to complete this work, nor will be required for the main contract works. Other preparatory work - under seawall dredging at the reclamation - started in June this year.

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Geoff Vazey said: "The terminal extension is another significant step along our planned path to provide for future capacity requirements.

"In line with global trends, we are experiencing larger container exchanges, brought by larger containerships.
"Our responsibility is to ensure that the Waitemata seaport continues to attract and provide for this business, for the well being of the city and region," Mr Vazey said.

Low impact environmentally-friendly project
Ports of Auckland General Manager Infrastructure Ben Chrystall said: "While the scale of this project is considerable, the construction and dredging activity will be of a low intensity and will have minimal impact on recreational harbour users and port neighbours.

"Because we are using dredgings from the shipping lane deepening for reclamation fill (in the form of mudcrete), we will require only modest amounts of quarry rock to be trucked in - for the outer armouring of the sea-wall. This is good news for port neighbours and road users as it means there will be limited traffic servicing the site.

"It's also good news for the environment as we will be recycling the dredgings into the reclamation rather than disposing of them at sea and will not be depleting Auckland's scarce quarry rock resources," Mr Chrystall said.

Recreational boaties won't be hindered by the barge-mounted mechanical dredger in the shipping lane. The barge is about the same size as a Fullers ferry with one 100-tonne back-hoe excavator on board. Tugs will tow hopper barges containing the dredgings from the stationary dredger barge to the mudcrete machine at the reclamation 24-hours-per-day five days a week - approximately six round trips a day.

"Land making mudcrete machine"
At 20 metres tall, the newly commissioned mudcrete machine is dwarfed by the nearby port container cranes, but this machine is capable of churning out 2,000 cubic metres of mudcrete (marine sediment dredgings mixed with cement) per day. Using a state-of-the-art global positioning system (GPS), the mudcrete is precisely placed by small bottom-opening hopper barges into the reclamation.

The $2 million mudcrete machine uses a pre-conditioning system that has been tailored for this project. This type of machine is normally used overseas to dry mix concrete for roads and airport runways. About 60,000 tonnes of cement will be used during Stage One of the reclamation project.

Reclamation and shipping lane work
Fletcher Construction is carrying out the main work of the project, with contracts yet to be let for the reclamation pavement, services and other finishing works. Heron Construction is the sub-contractor for the shipping lane dredging and mudcrete placement works. Beca Carter are the engineers for the project.

The Stage One work involves building a sea wall with a protective armour rock outer layer, completion of the reclamation progressively over the next two to three years and the construction of a public walkway with two viewing platforms on the eastern side of the extension.

Further information on the deepening of the commercial shipping lane and the Axis Fergusson container terminal expansion is available on the Ports of Auckland website:

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