Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS) operates a mine, smelter and power station on the west coast of New Caledonia – a multi-billion dollar greenfield project. It’s a world-class industrial complex which, at peak production, will make New Caledonia one of the largest nickel producers in the world.

Since 2011 Ventia has been responsible for the operation and maintenance of the facility’s power generation equipment. This includes two circulating fluidised bed boilers, two steam turbine units, and two open cycle gas turbines with a total capacity of 370 MW.

Rapid preparations for a greenfield project


Ventia was able to rapidly provide the KNS project with the tools necessary to design a maintenance and plant care program that would deliver very high plant availability. The KNS power plant is the only sizeable power source in the North Province; the national grid does not have the capacity to support the nickel ferrite smelter, so making sure power is available is crucial to the mine’s operations.

We deployed very experienced Australia-based personnel to develop and implement the systems and skills required to implement the strategies.

In preparation for the mine opening we:

  • developed recommendations for operating spares
  • developed recommendations for capital spares
  • developed bills of materials
  • wrote the standard operating procedures
  • prepared master isolations
  • vetted vendor operations and maintenance manuals
  • monitored the configuration acceptance tests
  • managed the document system and integrated it with the KNS system
  • assisted with commissioning.

We deployed very experienced Australia-based personnel to develop and implement the systems and skills required to implement the strategies ; their mission was also to train and develop the local workforce.

Environment and social responsibility


The facility is located adjacent to New Caledonia’s UNESCO-listed natural world heritage coral lagoon, making environmental management critical. We are trusted to minimise the impact of our operations. Our excellent environmental record has contributed to three contract extensions over the life of the project.

The operation is of great economic and political significance to New Caledonia and is the first major development in the north of the island. So we're proud to have invested considerable effort into training and developing local people who now comprise the majority of the workforce.

Upskilling the local employees


Ventia deployed experienced and mobile senior staff whose passion was acting in a mentoring role. They were eager to pass on the experience they had gained over many years to young and enthusiastic employees who had never worked in heavy industry before. This transfer of knowledge covered a range of disciplines and included training local operators in Australia and developing an intensive training program tailored to the KNS plant for New Caledonian employees. Topics covered include:

  • fluidised bed boilers and turbines
  • gas turbine operation and maintenance
  • high voltage network management and operation
  • maintenance management and outage execution
  • commissioning and start-up skills
  • shutdown planning and execution
  • defect detection
  • condition monitoring
  • plant installation, overhauls and precision maintenance
  • CMMS setup and management
  • implementation and execution of the power plant’s Asset Maintenance Management Plan
  • setting-up and managing the power plant’s document management system
  • day-to-day power station operations management and execution
  • essential leadership skills.

There are additional personal development opportunities for employees through our education assistance policy, traineeships, apprenticeships, and internships.

A training management system is used to ensure that personnel are trained in the skills and knowledge they need to do their job properly and safely.

SILCAR NC is a subsidiary of Ventia Pty Ltd, in New Caledonia.

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