Project Mesaieed, Qatar

Gabbro Terminal

Qatar’s economy is booming. Every day, vast quantities of commodities arrive at the port. There they are sorted and prepared for transport to the warehouse, three kilometres inland. In the run-up to the next football world cup, construction fever is reaching a peak in Qatar and trading in commodities is at record levels.One of the main commodities traded in Qatar is Gabbro, a coarse-grained rock used in asphalt and concrete. So that it can be delivered and stored as quickly as possible, Qatar Primary Materials Company decided to automate the port terminal.

Solution & Result

In the port, conveyors and cranes on rails were built to carry the commodities straight from the ship to the warehouse. There, automatic conveyors – known as stackers – sort the materials into large stacks. In this EPC– project, BESIX and its partner FDL Schmidt were responsible for the design, installation and commissioning of the terminal.

Making a virtue of necessity

The subsoil in the port consists of very soft clay that makes an unsuitable foundation for heavy machinery. For this reason, BESIX decided to follow the soil survey, a task that is outsourced, in real time. In this way, it could adapt its design to the findings much more quickly and – if necessary – commission a further survey right away. The advantage of this turned out to be so great that BESIX also decided to opt for its own soil survey in other projects.

Calling in the reinforcements

BESIX not only had to allow for the delicate state of the soil and the weight of the machinery, but also the tonnes of building materials piled up on the site. The weight of the raw materials exerts so much pressure on the subsoil that the foundation would be pushed aside. So BESIX designed a network of asymmetrically reinforced foundation piles.

Each pile is one and a half metres wide and was given extra reinforcement on the side on which the building materials are stored. A successful solution: it hasn’t been necessary to align the stackers and the conveyors - previously an annual task - for the last two years.

Intercontinental design team finishes the job 

In order to ensure smooth communication between the engineers in Brussels and the site supervisors in Qatar, a design coordinator was appointed. He was present on site and made sure that everyone had the necessary information in good time. ‘Even more than elsewhere, a lot of importance was placed on follow-up meetings. The design coordinator was literally our eyes and ears on the site’, says project manager engineering Werner Vits.

The work doesn’t end with delivery 

Every step in the foundation works was carefully analysed and documented. ‘We’ve learnt lessons from this experience as a team. We can apply the new skills we’ve acquired from this to other projects’, says Werner Vits.

BESIX also remains available for advice, if required.

Community impact

Thanks to the automated terminal, commodities can be sorted and processed faster and more safely. The large quantities of fine dust that used to be released when loading trucks have been eliminated by the automatic processing. Also, trucks no longer have to travel between the port and the warehouse, drastically reducing the CO2 emissions from the processing of the commodities.

Project details

Project name

Gabbro Terminal

Area(s) of expertise

Sundry, Warehouses and Logistics

Contract type



Mesaieed, Qatar


Six Construct


Qatar Primary Materials Co. (QPMC)

Building Period

2013 - 2016


Aurecon Engg. Consultants

Total value

€ 231 million

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