Atlas Iron and Brockman Mining have announced the extension of their Pilbara infrastructure study agreement with rail operator Aurizon, after reporting positive results from their initial analysis.
The aim of the study was to evaluate a new, independent, multi-party railway to connect iron ore mines in the East Pilbara to Port Hedland.
The first phase of the study “demonstrates the merits of a new, standard-gauge railway in the East Pilbara, connected to dedicated port facilities at Port Hedland that aggregates production from a number of operating and prospective miners”, the companies said in separate statements.
As a result, the companies have extended the study agreement to 1 July 2013, to examine the integration of the East Pilbara rail development with the proposed North West Infrastructure port development at South West Creek in Port Hedland.
Atlas and Brockman said this decision recognises the synergies that can be achieved across the supply chain and forms the basis for the next stage of evaluation being a single, integrated rail and port pre-feasibility study.
North West Infrastructure was originally a consortium of junior miners but, after a series of takeovers, it is effectively just Atlas and Brockman.
It has a capacity allocation of 50 million tonnes per annum at Port Hedland’s crowded inner harbour, and this is critical to the growth aspirations of Atlas and Brockman.
Atlas Managing Director Ken Brinsden said that “as a result of this first phase of study, Atlas has learnt much about the economics of a new independent rail solution”.
“The results of the joint study support our view that an infrastructure solution for junior miners in the Pilbara is viable and could be realised, to the benefit of all of our stakeholders, including the local Port Hedland community and the State of Western Australia”.