A group of IRATA Rope Access Technicians posing for a group photo in front of a helicopter used to deliver meshing to the rock face.

Koolan Island Helicopter Meshing Campaign

History of Koolan Island

Images Sourced from the collections of the State Library of Western Australia and reproduced with the permission of the Library Board of Western Australia.

A black and white image of a small settlement on the shores of Koolan Island, taken in the early 1900s.
1907 - small-scale mining operations mark the first mining on Koolan Island.
A black and white image of workers gathered in one of the first mining pits dug on Koolan Island, taken in the 1930s.
1938 – Commonwealth Emberago halts operations.
A black and white image showing the view from above of a small settlement on the shores of Koolan Island, taken in the 1940s.
1945 – Mining Operations Re-allowed
A black-and-white image of some early mining machinery on a hill on Koolan Island, taken in the 1950s.
1950 - BHP Acquires Mining Operations

Project Summary

The meshing campaign is critical in stabilising rock faces. The mesh prevents rock falls and provides a surface for anchor points for ropes and harnesses.

Through working on previous meshing works, our engineers and technicians identified that using helicopters in meshing scopes was the most efficient way to get multiple rolls on walls quickly compared to using cranes. However, using helicopters requires a lot of preparation and planning before they can be deployed by site personnel. The practice of helicopter meshing is a complex process that involves much effort, time and resources. The first step is to plan the flight path and determine where the pilot will place each roll on the face. This needs to be done by an experienced pilot, who must communicate with the ground crew during flight operations.


Another aspect of using helicopters is that our technicians can use them in places that would be too dangerous for a crane. The aircraft can fly low over the ground and place the mesh rolls exactly where they need to go, while cranes must travel along roads or paths, which can be difficult in remote areas.
Each roll of mesh weighs 4 metres and 300 kilograms daily; that is 224 metres of mesh weighing 16,800 kilograms.
The helicopter’s down draft also has the added benefit of dusting the rock face in preparation for meshing.

The meshing campaigns are conducted closely with our rope access teams, as more prominent rock faces require technicians who can scale heights.


Two images spliced together to show a helicopter lowering a roll of TECCO mesh on the rope to 2 IRATA rope access technicians on a sloped rockface with a clear blue sky in the background.

Despite reworking our procedures from the ground up, the Campaign went as smoothly as possible. Factoring in the different methods and regulations for using helicopters at the site was a very specific challenge that our team at Koolan overcame.

The Campaign was carried out across all sections of the main pit, using rope access and areas worked on foot where no vehicles or cranes could access to place TECCO mesh.

The two main campaigns were carried out relatively quickly.

  • HEC 12 saw 106 rolls of TECCO mesh installed in 3 days using 22 sets of rope on the wall.
  • HEC 13 contained 110 rolls of TECCO mesh and was also completed within 3 days.


Overall, the campaign was carried out with 0 injuries or major incidents, another major feather in the cap of Vertech and our continued innovation journey.

The Vertech team would like to thank our clients, business partners, and employees for their continued support, and we look forward to working with them on future projects.

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An underside shot of a helicopter lowering a roll of TECCO mesh on the rope to two IRATA Technicians on a rock face.
Koolan Island Helicopter Meshing Campaign Case Study
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