BOTS project may remove road trains from Pilbara

With EPA approval this week, a new autonomous rail system may be shifting minerals in the future

BOTS project may remove road trains from Pilbara
The BOTS proposal.


The number of road trains in Western Australia’s Pilbara region may soon diminish after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approved plans to build an elevated rail network from the Iron Valley Project to Port Headland.

Proposed by Mineral Resources Limited, an Australian mining company, the Pilbara Bulk Ore Transportation System (POTS) would see the construction of a 330km elevated transport structure from the Iron Valley Project mine to the boundary of the Port Hedland Pilbara Port Authority.

According to a released report from the EPA, the authority says the project "can be managed to meet the EPA’s objectives and therefore recommends that the proposal may be implemented."

While giving approval, the EPA says it has also "developed a set of conditions that the EPA recommends be imposed if the proposal by Mineral Resources Limited to construct and operate the proposal".

Those conditions range include avoiding the disturbance of local wildlife and sacred land.

According to the mining company behind the rail, the BOTS solution will employ "an elevated below rail structure" which will minimise "the cut and fill earthworks activities required during construction, but also results in less disturbance to natural landscapes, such as surface water features and fauna habitat, as well as infrastructure, such as existing road and rail."

Mineral Resources Limited says its solution will also be "almost completely re-locatable once a resource/reserve is completely exhausted."

With controls to be based in Perth, the miner says the autonomous rail system will all for continuous movement while loading and unloading.

"At a fraction of the capital cost of traditional heavy haul rail and road haulage, but maintaining an operating cost that is comparable to heavy rail, BOTS is a true low cost haulage solution with the very real potential to open up significant mining assets long considered stranded," Mineral Resources Limited says.

It is believed the trains involved will be powered by a combination of diesel and gas.



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