16/03/2015 - 14:41

EPA backs $2bn Pilbara rail plan

16/03/2015 - 14:41

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The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that Rutila Resources' proposed 205-kilometre railway and conveyor line in the Pilbara, which will be used to support new iron ore mines, should gain ministerial approval.

EPA backs $2bn Pilbara rail plan
Artist's impression of the Balla Balla stockyard in the Pilbara.

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that Rutila Resources' proposed 205-kilometre railway and conveyor line in the Pilbara, which will be used to support new iron ore mines, should gain ministerial approval.

The rail and conveyer project will link Rutila’s Balla Balla export facilities midway between Port Hedland and Karratha with Flinders Mines’ proposed Pilbara iron ore project.

Both companies have gained financial backing from New Zealand's Todd Corporation - one of that country's largest private business groups.

Rutila's proposed rail line is part of a broader $2 billion project, including a transhipment port, currently going through a feasibility study.

Its ability to proceed will likely depend on a recovery in the iron ore price.

Its proposal also includes rail crossings, access roads, borrow pits, communication services, water and power supplies, pipelines, accommodation camps, workshop and laydown areas and a landfill site.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the export facilities were intended to allow the export of ore from Rutila’s Balla Balla magnetite project.

“The proponent requested the EPA assess the construction of the 160km railway line and 45km conveyer line to accommodate third party use of the export facilities,” he said.

Dr Vogel said Rutila considered alternative rail corridors to minimise potential impacts to the environment.

“The EPA has carefully examined this proposal and concluded it could recommend approval subject to a set of conditions,” he said.

The EPA also recommended the Rutila rehabilitate disturbed areas using locally native flora species, and contribute to a government vegetation conservation fund.

Rutila shares closed 2.7 per cent higher at 18.5 cents per share.

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