29 November 2023

Marine contractor helps protect Pacific Islands from rising sea levels

Hall Contracting specialises in coastal dredging, and its expertise is helping the Pacific Islands meet the challenge of rising sea levels. The Queensland-based company combines high engineering standards with a commitment to training the local population.

Hall Contracting recently led a project to reclaim 7 hectares of land in the Tuvalu capital, Funafuti. By creating a strip of land that is 1.5 metres higher than the natural level of Funafuti, the project protects the capital against storm surges and delivers long-term climate resilience.

Helping Pacific islands adapt to climate change

Hall Contracting began as a coastal dredging business on the Sunshine Coast in 1946. The Chief Executive, Cameron Hall, is the grandson of the founder. With his family, Cameron has built Hall Contracting into an international dredging and civil construction company that specialises in marine infrastructure and land reclamation.

‘We are a third-generation family business,’ says Hall. ‘Today, we are Australia’s largest home-grown dredging company. We work across Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and we have a specialist capability. We can execute complex dredging work on remote islands where logistics is a huge challenge.’

Hall Contracting has delivered coastal protection and land reclamation schemes in Fiji, Tuvalu and other Pacific nations. Many projects are vital to island communities. Without improved coastal protection, towns are at risk of catastrophic damage from storm surges.

Hall Contracting brings 2 particular qualities to projects in the Pacific: robust engineering and inclusive workforce participation.

‘We deliver high standards of construction and safety to some of the most remote places on Earth,’ says Hall. ‘With quality engineering, vulnerable communities can protect themselves against the effects of climate change.

‘Also, we involve the local population. We teach people how to drive loaders, work excavators and operate machinery. We provide certifications that create employment opportunities. Our projects are completed with real pride.’

Exporting dredging expertise across Asia

Hall Contracting gained its first overseas project in 1999. This involved land reclamation for the construction of a power station in Thailand. The company subsequently won contracts in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Today, some of the company’s most challenging projects are in the Pacific.

‘Our first project in the Pacific was in Fiji,’ says Hall. ‘We delivered flood-mitigation works in 2005 and have worked in Fiji ever since.’

Hall Contracting has also completed numerous dredging projects in Papua New Guinea, including dredging hard clay to help create a new port facility.

‘We’ve also worked in Tokelau, which is a remote territory halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii,’ says Hall. ‘Tokelau has no harbour or port facilities, but we got the equipment in to dredge reef passages between atolls and construct new wharves.’

Heavy earth moving equipment work on a coastal barrier to protect against rising water levels


Regain exports its expertise

Regain manufactures its smelter components in Newcastle, New South Wales and exports them direct to aluminium-smelting companies.

The company began exporting Australian-made HiCAL to cement companies in the Philippines and Thailand in 2012. In 2014, the company commenced shipments to Latin America and North Africa.

Today, Regain exports HiCAL to cement-makers in 19 countries. This enables construction companies to lower GHG emissions in their own supply chains. Regain also helps customers reduce energy consumption.

‘When we sell HiCAL to overseas customers, we include technical support,’ says Cooper. ‘This helps our customers learn how to use HiCAL to lower their energy costs. That means there’s a double, low-carbon benefit.’

Partnering in the Gulf

Regain’s export journey has now gone one step further with a major partnership in the Gulf. Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) is one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters. By working closely with Regain, Alba is significantly reducing its environmental impact.

‘Alba selected Regain to develop an efficient, zero-waste solution for its aluminium smelter,’ says Cooper. ‘They wanted us to help them process pot lining onsite, so they could reduce residue landfill.

‘Our technicians helped Alba install a zero-waste solution for their smelter. We provide technology and ongoing support via a licensing arrangement. This means we work directly with Alba to produce HiCAL in Bahrain and sell it to cement-makers in Asia.’

Austrade helps with certifications

Austrade advisors first helped Regain in 2009 when the company began selling HiCAL in China. Since then, Austrade advisors have helped Regain break into multiple new markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This includes help gaining certifications for HiCAL.

‘Austrade helped us obtain an ‘Advanced Classification Ruling’ from the Philippines’ Tarriff Commission,’ says Cooper. ‘Austrade advisors also provide support in critical areas, such as relations with government regulators.

‘Local Austrade advisors in each country help us gain an understanding of local business culture and government requirements,’ he adds. ‘Their support paves the way for more exports to the Philippines.’