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The first turbines are starting to turn at the 180MW Mount Emerald wind farm near Mareeba.

They are undergoing a staged testing and commissioning process ahead of the $360 million project achieving full commercial operation in November.

Project developer Ratch Australia Corporation described the testing as a significant milestone, saying it announced Mount Emerald’s “electrification” and followed the completion of the site’s substation and switchyard.

“We’ve now commenced generating electricity and sending it into the grid, and we’ll be ramping up the amount of generation over the next few months as additional turbines get commissioned," Ratch executive general manager business development Anthony Yeates said.

"We’ve invested thousands of hours into site preparation and building the project and now we get to see it in action and producing electricity.

“It is very satisfying this has come together like we planned and it’s a great payoff for all our hard work, particularly for many local suppliers who have been with us from the start.”

While the project uses turbines by Danish manufacturer Vestas, local suppliers such as Gregg Construction, HEH Civil and Watto’s Earthmoving have left their name on the project.

“We’ve been involved on the project since 2009 where we provided some upgrades to the road into the site,” said Gregg Construction’s Ken Gregg, whose company has been responsible for civil and excavation works, labour hire, ground surveys and dust suppression.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve done on what was a very challenging site."

Forty-four of 53 turbines have now been raised and another six partially completed while all of the 800 tonne concrete foundations have now been poured.

Less than 1km of high-voltage underground cabling is left to be installed.

The remaining construction and turbine installation activities will be completed in parallel with turbine commissioning over the next few months, with full operation expected to commence in November this year.

The wind farm will deliver in the order of 530,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy, which is predicted to meet the annual needs of about 75,000 north Queensland homes over at least a 20-year period.

Turbines turning as FNQ wind farm nears completion
The Sun Metals Corporation zinc refinery in Townsville this week officially commissioned their new $200 million 125MWac solar farm.
“Sun Metals’ mission is to become the safest, the most environmentally responsible and the most competitive zinc refinery in the world," Sun Metals chief executive officer Yun Choi said.

"The solar farm is an excellent example of our commitment to the mission and the journey. I would like to thank and congratulate each and every one of our employees, contractors and partners for their dedication and contribution, without which none of this would be possible.

"I would also like to specially thank RCR Tomlinson, the EPC contractor of the solar farm, for doing a splendid job in building the solar farm.”

Mr Choi said the solar farm gave Sun Metals the ability to produce 30 per cent of its own electricity for the refinery, while providing an opportunity to sell the electricity to the grid when it was beneficial to do so.

“The solar farm is one-of-a-kind in Australia in that it will directly power a large industrial user and export electricity into the National Electricity Market. Now that the solar farm is operational, it will enable the refinery to be the largest single site renewable consumer in Australia,” Mr Choi said.

“The opportunity and competitive edge this solar farm brings to our business means Sun Metals is one step closer to making a final decision regarding the potential expansion of our zinc refinery in Townsville.

“Once we have achieved an acceptable long-term power price agreement and certainty over our road and logistics access to Townsville port, we will be in a position to make a final determination regarding the expansion of our refinery in Townsville."

The expansion would involve a $300 million investment and was expected to support up to 827 construction jobs during peak construction, as well as a significant increase
in permanent workers across the refinery and and its related businesses, Mr Choi said.

Sun Metals commissions $200m solar farm
NSS Townsville stevedores were kept busy last week with large export orders

of live cattle.

More than 20,000 head of cattle were loaded and a further 10,000 head are

scheduled for loading in mid-August.
NSS handled more than 8000 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) spread across eight container vessels in the Port of Townsville last month.

“This is the largest volume of containers handled by NSS / Port of Townsville in a month and is a positive start to the new financial year,” NSS commercial manager Mitchell Smith said.

Port of Townsville in April flagged a record-breaking 2018/19 financial year for containerised cargo.

Official figures are yet to be released.

Container records tumble in July
Port of Mackay will welcome its first roll-on roll-off (RORO) trade this month, when NSS will handle the cargo of four massive mining trucks bound for the Bowen Basin.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said this would be the first time a RORO vessel had come into the Port of Mackay, off the back of a $9.8 million infrastructure upgrade delivered under the State Government’s Accelerated Works Program.

“With the critical METS hub just down the road at Paget, the Port of Mackay’s new RORO capability really does open up a new world of economic opportunity for the region," he said.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) acting chief executive officer Brendan Webb said after being unloaded in parts at the port, the 794AC trucks would be transported to Paget for assembly. 

“Before the infrastructure upgrade, RORO vessels could not berth at Mackay and this cargo would instead have had to travel large distances along the highway from southern ports,” he said.

The RORO upgrade (pictured in progress below) involved replacing the fenders at two wharves within the port and amending the wharf infrastructure so that a RORO ramp can be used to roll cargo on or off a ship, as opposed to lifting heavy vehicles off vessels with a crane.

NQBP marine pilots undertook training to manoeuvre RORO ships into the Port of Mackay at the Queensland Government’s Smartship Australia simulator in June.

The Port of Mackay experienced its strongest trade in four years in the 2017-18 financial year, with more than three million tonnes of throughput.

Mackay welcomes RORO roll-out

The first panels have been switched on as part of a staged testing and commissioning process for the  $100 million Collinsville Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project.

Project developers Ratch Australia Corporation expect the 42.5MW project to achieve full commercial operation in September.

Ratch executive general manager business development Anthony Yeates said the testing announced the “electrification” of the Collinsville project, which is located next to the decommissioned Collinsville coal-fired power station.

 It follows the installation of 164,000 PV solar panels and more than 550km of cabling, the completion of the site’s control room and meteorological station, and the refurbishment of the site’s substation which is now energised.

“First generation is a meaningful milestone as we’re now generating and exporting electricity to the grid. We’ll be ramping up the amount of generation as the project reaches completion point next month,” Mr Yeates said.

“The project showcases how old coal-fired generation sites can be repurposed as new renewable energy bases, benefiting from existing infrastructure, while helping to transform Australia’s energy mix.”

A fleet of excavators, bulldozers, graders, cranes, trucks and trenchers have taken just over a year to transform the 80 ha site.

Mr Yeates said most of the work had been carrried out bylocal businesses including Beauchamp Excavating from Collinsville, Hillery Group, S&W Crane Hire, and Australian Indigenous Security Services from Bowen, and Pyro Dynamics from Proserpine.

“All eight major contracts listed on the Industry Capability Network were awarded to suppliers in the North Queensland region, which is well known for the depth of industrial capabilities and skills,” he said.

Hillery Group general manager Luke Hillery said he was pleased to have been involved in the project.

“We’ve been responsible for the bulk earthworks and civil construction of the road network as well as the supply of quarry products and sand,” Mr Hillery said.

“During peak times we had up to 15 heavy machines on site with operators. Things had been a little slow up until the start of the project so it’s been a good shot in the arm for the company and the local area.

“To see it all come together has given our team a great sense of achievement.” 

The solar farm will deliver in the order of 130,000 MW hours of renewable energy, which is predicted to meet the annual needs of about 15,000 Whitsunday homes over a 20-year period.

Ratch owns and operates several renewable energy projects in Australia, including the 180 MW Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba which is due for completion in November.

Ratch flicks the switch for Collinsville solar tests