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Case study: Volvo at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport

The Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport (WTB), built near Toowoomba 125km west of Queensland’s capital, is the first greenfield public airport built in Australia in 50 years and the nation’s first privately funded public airport.

It was built from scratch in just 18 months, from churning up the turf to the first aircraft landing, and was completed at the end of last year by Wagners, a Toowoomba-based and family-owned construction company that specialises in transport, logistics, cement, pre-cast concrete, contract crushing and mining.

In fact, WTB was privately funded by Wagners, without government assistance.

Toowoomba, also known as the ‘The Garden City’ because of its flourishing flower population and 150 parks and gardens, lies in the state’s Darling Downs region.

The city is important as a transport hub because its population of 165,000 makes it Australia’s second-most populous inland city, it serves the south-western Queensland mining industry, it is one of the state’s major precincts for health, education and manufacturing, and it lies in Australia’s second largest agricultural basin.

“Construction equipment was very important to this project,” says Wagners MD Denis Wagner. “We built a 2.87km runway and it was critical that we had reliable equipment.

“We used a lot of mid-sized Volvo machines up to 50 tonnes, which were reliable and fuel efficient,” he adds.

“We worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week in two 12-hour shifts. All of the construction material for the project came from the site. We crushed the gravel and aggregate for the concrete and asphalt. To do this, we needed 350,000 truckloads, travelling in and out of the site. Commercially, it would be less attractive if we didn’t have that material already available to use.”


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Rock was blasted, excavated and moved to make way for a 45m-wide runway. In the centre of the site a concrete plant produced the estimated 26,000 cubic metres of material needed for the project.

“All the concrete used for the aircraft pavement was the company’s own product called Earth Friendly Concrete or EFC,” Wagner says. “It’s concrete with no cement in it. This is the first airport in the world to be built using EFC. On this project alone, our carbon emissions were reduced by 6,600 tonnes – simply through the use of EFC.”

The Volvo L90F-Series wheel loader deposited the EFC into the concrete batching plant, where it was then discharged. The site also used 46-tonne Volvo excavators, as well as wheel loaders — from L90s up to L220s — and A40F-Series articulated haulers on a daily basis.

About 150 Wagners employees worked on the project and an estimated 10 million tons of earth was moved in total.

There are 334,000 people living in the Brisbane West Wellcamp airport’s catchment area and the airport expects to welcome 500,000 passengers a year. There are only 13 houses within a 3km radius of the runway, so the impact on the local community is minimal.

Prior to its redevelopment as a ‘Code E’ airfield capable of accommodating up to Boeing 747-sized aircraft, the 2,000-hectare property at Wellcamp was used for cattle-grazing.

Adjoining the new airport will be Wellcamp Business Park, which will accommodate commercial office space, retail, hotels and manufacturing sites. 

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