MinRes’ ‘skyrail’ plans ap­proved by EPA

Pilbara News - - News - Stu­art McKin­non

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.

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