In October last year the ceremonial groundbreaking
took place at the Port of Timaru for
Holcim New Zealand’s new $50 million cement
import terminal. The site had been fully cleared
of old silos and was then ready for construction.
The entire terminal consists of two berthing
facilities, shore-based ship unloading capacity,
a cement truck load-out facility, ancillary
buildings, and a cement storage dome with a
30,000 tonne capacity.
For the local citizenry, principle interest has
been centred in the rise of the 36m diameter,
35m tall dome that accounts for half the cost.
is already a prominent feature of the Timaru
landscape, and has become known as “The
Dome”, with those initial capitals now part of
the local lexicon.
While storage domes are in common use
throughout the world, Holcim’s Timaru dome is
a first for New Zealand.
The design and
construction have been undertaken by Domtec
International, a US-based contractor with 20
Initial work was concentrated on ground
improvements to the Timaru soil to meet the
geotechnical requirements of the continuous
circular ring beam foundation on which the
dome proper stands.
Readers can rest assured
the Christchurch earthquakes were uppermost
in both Holcim’s and Domtec’s minds.
Following completion of the ring beam, all the
steel reinforcement needed for erection of the
dome was placed inside the footprint along
with the necessary machinery.
dome skin exterior membrane was
then attached to the ring beam.
Once everyone was happy, inflator fans were
connected to inflation ducts, and the internal
pressure slowly increased. It took just over an
hour for the dome to gain its final shape.
occurred in late February this year.
When full inflation was complete, internal
construction began by spraying a layer of
polyurethane foam over the Dome’s inner skin.
This not only provided initial rigidity but also
served as the essential insulated thermal
Some 450 tonnes of permanent steel
structural rebar were then erected around the
inside perimeter, followed by layer upon layer
of sprayed shotcrete to complete the basic
Insertions were then cut into the completed
structure to allow installation of equipment
such as dust collectors.
Domes typically take three months to
construct. Those used to hold cement are
fitted out with a fully aerated floor to fluidise
the cement for ease of flow, and to ensure the
dome can be fully emptied. Cement from the
ships is unloaded by a pneumatic suction arm
and transported pneumatically to the dome.
The Timaru terminal is on track to be fully
operational in the first quarter of 2016.
Those wanting to know more can check out the
dome international web site at
www.domtec.com, or you can view the dome
construction process at www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2pf7xNOvhA&x-ytts=1422579428&x-yt-cl=85114404
Most in South Canterbury view the dome with
interest, verging on fascination, and see it as a
sign of the growing importance of the Port of
Timaru to the South Island.
However, there are those somewhat less
enchanted. These include residents whose
homes are in line of view. Some have been
rather vocal following inflation. Nevertheless,
The Dome is surely more easy on the eye than
the line of rusty, aging silos it replaced.
At the time of that transitory brouhaha, one
Auckland reporter found time to check out the
They were then able to assure New Zealand
Herald readers that they too were about to
receive an “eyesore” when Holcim erected a
dome in their neck of the woods.
Aucklanders will not have long to wait. Work
has commenced on the northern structure,
with the intention of having it operating in the
third quarter of 2016.