Western Australia Water Minister, Dave Kelly, Water Corporation CEO, Pat Donovan, and Steel Mains CEO, Dean Connell, announce plans to make 1600mm steel mains in Western Australia.
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A new $58 million Water Corporation contract will see extra-large steel water pipes produced in Western Australia for the first time, supporting local jobs and manufacturing in Kwinana Industrial Area.

The contract with Steel Mains will see 1,600mm diameter water pipes manufactured in Kwinana rather than at their plant in Victoria, mitigating supply chain risks and significant freight costs, while also eliminating the emissions that would be created by transporting the pipe across the country.

The first locally produced extra-large pipe is expected to roll off the production floor in 2024 and be used during construction of the new Alkimos Seawater Desalination Plant (ASDP) to convey water from the plant into the network.  

Announced in June 2022, ASDP will have capacity to provide 100 billion litres of safe, secure drinking water to millions of Western Australians each year, with the first 50 billion litre stage being commissioned in 2028.

Using 1,600mm diameter pipes at ASDP will reduce the amount of energy needed to pump water, lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 21 per cent compared to the use of smaller pipes. 

Western Australia Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said “It’s fantastic to see Water Corporation leading from the front when it comes to supporting local manufacturing and local jobs by bringing the production of these extra-large steel water mains to Western Australia.

 “These will be the largest steel water pipes ever manufactured in Western Australia and will eliminate reliance on pipe trucked over from the eastern states.

“In addition to considerably lower procurement costs, less energy is needed to pump water through these mains, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping Water Corporation towards its goal of becoming a net zero emitter by 2035.”  

Steel Mains traces its history back more than 140 years in Western Australia and its forerunner supplied the steel pipe used in the construction of the Golden Pipeline from Mundaring Weir to the Goldfields.

The Australian-owned firm has operated in Kwinana since the 1960s and already supplies Water Corporation with high quality, locally manufactured steel pipe in smaller sizes. The extended contract will allow the company to invest in tooling upgrades to its Kwinana factory, helping secure around 70 direct jobs.

The pipe will be produced using Australian steel with iron ore from the Pilbara and lined with cement from Cockburn Cement in Kwinana. Each 12m long section of the 1,600mm pipe weighs around nine tonnes and has an expected lifespan of around 120 years.

In the 2021-22 financial year, 83.5 per cent ($878 million) of Water Corporation’s procurement is with Western Australia-based businesses, supporting the State Government’s Western Australia Buy Local Policy and Western Australian Industry Participation Strategy.

Featured image: (left to right) Western Australia Water Minister, Dave Kelly, Water Corporation CEO, Pat Donovan, and Steel Mains CEO, Dean Connell, announce plans to make 1600mm steel mains in Western Australia. Image: Western Australian Government. 

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