28/04/2011 - 00:00

LandCorp releases Oakajee draft plan

28/04/2011 - 00:00

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THE Western Australian government has submitted its draft structure plan for the Oakajee Industrial Estate for public comment, a key step in the development of the proposed Mid West port.

LandCorp releases Oakajee draft plan

THE Western Australian government has submitted its draft structure plan for the Oakajee Industrial Estate for public comment, a key step in the development of the proposed Mid West port.

The plan, submitted via the state land development agency LandCorp, outlines the detail of the more than 6,000-hectare area as well as transport corridors to connect the estate to minerals provinces and other local industrial areas.

The purchase or lease of industrial land at Oakajee will not be possible until the port is due for completion, thought to be around 2015.

The port development, which is partly backed by the state and federal governments, is contingent on the green light from Oakajee Port & Rail, a company owned by Japanese giant Mitsubishi and Mid West miner Murchison Metals.

Earlier this year, the state government extended the deadline for the port developer to submit its bankable feasibility study and achieve regulatory approvals by nine months to December 31.

In the interim, OPR has had to contend with significant conjecture that its project, which includes major rail infrastructure and a mine development at Jack Hills, had blown out by billions of dollars from an original estimate of $4.3 billion. Figures as high as nearly $7 billion have been mooted in press reports but OPR says it remains in the feasibility phase, which requires the examination of different design options. Murchison last month released an estimate of $5.2 billion, which was an internal cost estimate as part of the feasibility process.

The Oakajee Industrial Estate was zoned in 2004, providing for a 1,134ha strategic industry area for heavy industry, two general industrial areas, totalling 196ha, for support industry and a buffer of more than 4,000ha.

The strategic industry land is intended for long-term lease only while the general industrial land is expected to be sold as freehold.

The state has spent $30 million so far developing the proposal, which would create an industrial precinct 23 kilometres north of Geraldton, much as Kwinana was developed to support Perth.

As part of the development, there is intended to be significant transport infrastructure apart from the rail links to bring ore to the port for export.

A Geraldton bypass is proposed to move heavy vehicles around the city and link with the existing North West Coastal Highway, which already skirts the industrial area. Given the highway is already under pressure from heavy haulage servicing the Pilbara from Perth, it is expected to be upgraded to dual lane as part of the plan.

The proposed bypass will divert traffic around the city and link up the Oakajee site with the Narngulu industrial area to the south east of Geraldton. Narngulu is also expected to have a rail link to the port.

This bypass would also provide a link from within the Oakajee Industrial Estate to the existing Geraldton Port for access to a Panamax-sized berth if such a berth were not yet available at the new northern port.

As expected, the draft structure plan indicates that nearly 440 megawatts of power are expected to be required at the port industrial park by 2060.

About 24MW is required up to 2020, which could be provided by a 132-kilovolt line from the Chapman substation, which is part of the South West Interconnected System. The draft structure plan said a second 132kV from Chapman or new 330kV line from Moonyoonooka would be required by 2020.

Alternatively, OPR could generate its own power and put excess production into the grid down the proposed 132kV lines.

A wind farm and pumped storage hydroelectricity installation to the northern end of the estate are also being considered in the area’s energy mix.

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