The first exploration of the site for the multi-billion-dollar Goro Nickel project on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, a territorial community of France, was in 1969. Forty years later, nickel and cobalt were about to be produced on a commercial scale, with the plant expected to produce 60,000 tonnes of nickel and up to 5,000 tonnes of cobalt annually.
We were involved in the early development and engineering of this world-scale project. In 2004, together with our JV partner and the client in an integrated team, we started work on the EPCm phase and have since completed it. Getting there was no easy task and the weather did not always helped. The first half of 2008 saw total rainfall exceeding 2.4 metres! Accommodation space was another challenge, alleviated by the introduction of floating accommodation, known as 'The Flamenco’, moored at the project jetty.
The multi-cultural team, which grew to 500 people, tested the various systems and sub-systems using a five-stage approach: construction testing undertaken by the construction team, pre-commissioning, systems commissioning, plant/process commissioning and production ramp-up. The plant start-up was in the first half of 2009 with a phased ramp-up to full production.