FREMANTLE Ports has inflated a 40-metre high cement clinker dome at its Kwinana Bulk Terminal in the Outer Harbour, as part of an initiative to streamline import procedures.

The inflation process, which took 24 hours late last week, signalled the first time such a structure had been installed in WA and only the second such installation in Australia. Fremantle Ports says it is integral to its new import circuit facility for clinker, the principal element in the manufacture of cement.

Fremantle Ports CEO Michael Parker said the storage dome is able to hold an entire shipment of clinker – around 40,000 tonnes – with the project replacing existing aged cargo-handling assets with new facilities capable of handling future trade growth.

“Without clinker, industry stops and every tonne of the commodity entering WA comes through the Kwinana Bulk Terminal.  More than 1.1 million tonnes of clinker are imported each year through the KBT, destined for domestic, commercial and industrial construction projects throughout the state.

“Around half comes from Indonesia, with the remainder from Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and the United Arab Emirates,” Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker said Fremantle Ports chose a dome storage solution instead of a conventional dry product shed as it has a smaller ground footprint at the Kwinana Bulk Terminal.

“The clinker dome holds the same amount of product as a conventional shed but has a much smaller ground footprint. This is of significant benefit to future proofing the KBT as we can make space for other trades, sheds and systems as we continue to develop and grow in the years to come.”

The dome was built using cutting edge technology – firstly constructing a concrete ring beam, then inflating an air form membrane and spraying a layer of foam before finally installing steel reinforcing and applying shotcreting to the inside of the membrane.

“The instalment of the dome and the clinker import circuit facility is a very exciting investment, providing our customers faster cargo-handling, quicker ship turnaround times and more efficient landside operations,” Mr Parker said.

The first dome to be erected in Australia was inflated at the Port Adelaide site of building and construction materials supplier Hallett Group in January 2023. However, it collapsed soon afterwards, reportedly due to a manufacturing fault.

Within four weeks a new dome skin had been manufactured in Canada, air freighted into Australia, and then fitted and inflated at Port Adelaide. Design and process control improvements have been adopted throughout this process to ensure the dome is stable and strong, the company said.

“Hallett Group’s green cement transformation project represents a significant opportunity to decarbonise the cement and concrete industry in South Australia and beyond. The Port Adelaide dome and green cement blending and distribution facility are a key element of this exciting project,” it said.