MinRes’ ‘skyrail’ plans approved by EPA
Plans by Mineral Resources to transport iron ore across the Pilbara using a so-called skyrail have been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority.
The company’s proposed Pilbara Bulk Ore Transportation System, also known as BOTS, proposes to transport iron ore mined from the Iron Valley Project, about 90km north-west of Newman, to the Port Hedland Inner Harbour.
The BOTS design, which will replace the need for road trains, includes an elevated structure that is mounted on to pre-cast concrete beams, spanned between pre-cast concrete substructures.
Purpose-designed power cars and wagons will use a dual fuel (diesel and gas) generation system to transport the ore.
The project, which also includes supporting infrastructure, would be autonomously monitored from a Perth-based control centre.
EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton said the authority tested the proposal against four key environmental factors, including flora and fauna, before recommending the proposal could be implemented subject to nine conditions.
Dr Hatton said the design of the proposal meant there would be less clearing and interruption to water flows compared with traditional heavy haulage railway infrastructure.
“This proposal is an example of how innovation can avoid or minimise impacts to the environment,” he said.
“The conditions we have recommended will ensure impacts to conservation significant flora and vegetation and fauna species are minimised.
“Other conditions stipulate the requirement of a management plan for the rehabilitation and decommissioning of the proposal.”
Dr Hatton said offsets had been recommended to counterbalance the significant residual impact of a loss of “good to excellent” condition native vegetation.
The EPA’s report to Environment Minister Albert Jacob is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing on October 3.