An above-ground rail structure used to deliver iron ore across 330km of the Pilbara region has been recommended for approval by the Environmental Protection Authority.
Mineral Resources Limited’s 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 onto precast concrete beams, spanned between precast 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, will be autonomously monitored from a Perth-based control centre.
EPA Chairman Dr Tom Hatton said 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.
Dr 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.”
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 the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing October 3, 2016. Appeals are administered independently by the Appeals Convenor and can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au
The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.
EPA Report 1582 is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au
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