Skyrail comes back to Earth

Pilbara News - - Pilbara News - Nick Evans

■ Min­eral Resources has kicked off ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Bar­nett Gov­ern­ment over a State Agree­ment for its 330km Pil­bara skyrail, telling in­vestors it expects to make a fi­nal in­vest­ment in the in­no­va­tive haulage plat­form next year.

But its en­gi­neers have also brought the so-called Bulk Ore Trans­port Sys­tem tum­bling back to Earth, aban­don­ing plans to el­e­vate the track on 2m to 3m py­lons along its full length in favour of a more pro­saic, and lower, con­crete bed­ding for the track.

MinRes said in its quar­terly pro­duc­tion re­port, re­leased last week, the de­sign shift would sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the cost of lay­ing the track, once tipped at up to $800 mil­lion, and would al­low each wagon hauled by the sys­tem to carry 60 tonnes of ore, rather than 20 tonnes. The com­pany said it had launched ne­go­ti­a­tions over a State Agree­ment for the line, which would ser­vice BC Iron and MinRes’ Iron Val­ley project in the south­east Pil­bara, and po­ten­tially of­fer a route to mar­ket for other stranded iron ore ju­niors still hold­ing ten­e­ments in the re­gion.

MinRes is also be­lieved to be mov­ing closer to a deal with the Pil­bara Ports Author­ity to es­tab­lish a trans-ship­ping fa­cil­ity at Port Hed­land, with ne­go­ti­a­tions be­lieved to be cen­tred on the use of Lums­den Point.

While it firms up plans for the BOTS sys­tem, Min­eral Resources said last week the first of its Su­per Quad road trains had hit Pil­bara high­ways late Septem­ber, af­ter Trans­port Min­is­ter Dean Nalder ticked off on a trial of the ul­tra­heavy haulage ve­hi­cles.

At 60m long, the mas­sive rigs are 6.5m longer than stan­dard road trains that haul Pil­bara iron ore.

MinRes man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris El­li­son said in Au­gust the Su­per Quads would al­low it to cart 140 tonnes of ore per load, up from 108 tonnes in tra­di­tional quad-rigs, cut­ting as much as $5/t in haulage costs be­tween MinRes’ Iron Val­ley op­er­a­tions and Port Hed­land.

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