JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Integrated mining services company and iron-ore miner Mineral Resources Limited (MRL) is making progress with its Pilbara Bulk Ore Transportation System, known as BOTS, which will transport iron-ore mined from the Iron Valley mine site, near Newman, to Port Hedland.
The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended the project, which will replace the need for road trains currently in operation, for approval.
The BOTS system between the Iron Valley mine site and Port Hedland will use purpose-designed power cars and wagons, fuelled by diesel and gas, to transport the ore over 330 km. The project includes an elevated structure that is mounted onto precast concrete beams, spanned between precast concrete substructures. A Perth-based control centre will autonomously monitor the system.
EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton said in a statement on Monday the EPA tested the proposal against four key environmental factors, including flora and vegetation and terrestrial fauna, before recommending the proposal could be implemented subject to nine conditions.
Hatton said the design of the proposal meant there would be less clearing and interruption to water flows compared to a 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.”
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 the Minister for Environment is open for a two-week public appeal period, closing October 3.
MRL is Australia’s fifth-largest iron-ore producer, exporting ten-million tonnes a year of iron-ore from its Carina mine, in Yilgarn, and its Iron Valley mine, in the Pilbara.