Atlas Iron eyes roads as well as rail

Private haul roads to be built as miner links with QR National on rail infrastructure study

April 27, 2012

Overshadowed somewhat by QR National’s interest in Atlas Iron’s Pilbara rail needs is the miner’s private road infrastructure plans.

Atlas is looking to transport 10-15 million tonnes of iron ore a year (mtpa) using prime movers at the head of multiple bulk trailers carrying 200-550 tonnes a load.

And its road plans extend to its eastern state operations, modelling suggesting coal truck haulage could account for 5-.10 mtpa, the company reveals in a recent presentation.

In the Pilbara, Atlas intends to spend $200 million on a hub at Turners Creek servicing private haul roads linking mines with Utah Point at Port Hedland.

At present, the miner has a 100 km haul road project before the WA Warden’s Court.

It is provisionally estimated at costing $170 million, depending on the outcome.

Yesterday, Atlas revealed a formal link with Ventrex Resources to build a haul road linking the Abydos mine with the existing sealed Marble Bar Road via Ventrex’s access road route to the proposed Ventrex Sulphur Spring hub.

Venturex Managing Director Michael Mulroney says the agreement will help both parties reduce operating costs.

"It provides Venturex the opportunity to advance the infrastructure for the proposed Sulphur Springs development ahead of requirments, and substantially reduce the future capital and operating costs," Mulroney says.

"We believe this is a perfect example of regional co-operation assisting both parties in rediucing development costs and minimising our environmental inpacts."

Under the agreement Atlas has six months to commence the road’s construction.

Atlas has also agreed to manage the road’s design, construction and maintenance.

Venturex has agreed to pay a portion of the design and construction costs and contribute to its ongoing maintenance.

As QR National announced yesterday and Atlas notes in its March quarter report released today, Atlas has also
entered into a binding memorandum of understanding with QR to examine the feasibility of an independent standard-gauge railway in the Pilbara.

Atlas also says it has appointed former Fremantle Ports CEO Kerry Sanderson as an independent non-executive director.

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