Mineral Resources’ proposal to develop a so-called skyrail through Pilbara has been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). The Pilbara Bulk Ore Transportation System – also known as BOTS – will transport iron ore from the Iron Valley mine Northwest of Newman to the Port Hedland Inner Harbour.
BOTS is a 330-kilometre elevated railway which will replace the use of road trains, reducing the impact on the local environment. A control centre in Perth will autonomously monitor the skyrail’s operations.
Proposed route for BOTS (source: WA Today)
The design for BOTS will include an elevated structure which is mounted onto pre cast concrete beams, spanning between pre cast concrete substructures. The transport carts or wagons will be using a dual fuel generation system which used both diesel and gas.
According to EPA Chairman Dr Tom Hatton, they have tested the proposal against four key environmental factors such as flora and vegetation as well as terrestrial fauna before approving the proposal. Dr Hatton also said that the design for BOTS lessened clearing and interruption to water flow in the area compared to the traditional railway infrastructure.
“This proposal is an example of how innovation can avoid or minimise impacts to the environment.
“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.
The EPA have already recommended the proposal to Environment Minister Albert Jacob, and it is now open for public appeal until October 3. The final decision for Pilbara's elevated railway will be made by the Minister for Environment.
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