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BHP Mt Whaleback, Western Australia

BHP Case Study

BHP Billiton is a global leader in mining. In Australia they are the second largest Iron Ore miner that produced over 250 million tonnes of ore last year.
BHP West Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) has around 15 Ultraspin separators operating on 7 different sites.

The Challenges

Whaleback Aerial

BHP Mount Whaleback is one of the biggest and oldest Iron Ore mines in Australia. Because of it’s age, infrastructure was outdated and beginning to get run down.

In particular, the main oily water treatment system, an old gravity interceptor system with a rope skimmer, was not doing the job and was struggling to to meet environmental compliance requirements of 15mg/L Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH).

Personnel on site managed the old equipment as best they could but it reached a point where the maintenance was excessive and the non-compliance too big a risk and so something had to be done.

The separator to be replaced was the main one on site which treated oily water from:

  • HV Workshop
  • LV Workshop
  • HV Washbay
  • LV/Equipment Washbay
  • Refuelling/Fuel Storage Area

The image above shows the area with the new oily water and treated water dams under construction.

Oily Pit at Whaleback
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The Outcome

HV Washpad sediment pit


The Ultraspin Oil Water Separator was commissioned by Paul Hallier, Ultraspin’s Field Engineer in November 2015.

Site Acceptance Testing during commissioning confirmed the unit was achieving compliance of <15mg/L TPH (see jar samples in slides on right). This was done by injecting a blend of the sites oils into the suction of the separator and then analysing the discharge. The unit has continued to achieve compliance each month since installation

Positive feedback from maintenance personnel during training (see guys in pink & orange on right) and during subsequent service visits stating the unit was “very simple to operate & maintain”

Melissa Keatley, Ultraspin’s Sales Manager conducted a site audit at Mt Whaleback to:

  • Characterise the oily water generated on site
  • Develop the design basis for the oily water treatment system
  • Make recommendations on civil infrastructure i.e. pits & sumps, etc
  • Recommend an oily water treatment solution

Our solution consisted of: