28/05/2009 - 00:00

Pilbara road network inadequate: report

28/05/2009 - 00:00

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A STUDY investigating the impact of the resources sector on the Pilbara's road transport network has labelled the state government's planning "inadequate", and concluded that the lack of a Pilbara freight transport strategy could put future mini

A STUDY investigating the impact of the resources sector on the Pilbara's road transport network has labelled the state government's planning "inadequate", and concluded that the lack of a Pilbara freight transport strategy could put future mining projects at risk.

The movement of equipment and supplies travelling up from Perth and between the different Pilbara projects relies heavily on the region's already stretched road network, and demand on this network is predicted to grow exponentially over the next decade.

The Pilbara Freight Study, conducted last year by GHD Meyrick on behalf of the previous state government in conjunction with the Sea Freight Council of Western Australia, specifically focused on road movements in the region, not rail.

GHD Meyrick manager Lousie Meyrick surprised some of the Pilbara-based stakeholders in attendance at the presentation of her findings in Perth last week.

Mrs Meyrick believes there are significant problems with the current levels of planning, communication and the availability of information with regards to the use of the Pilbara's road transport networks.

"There's information gaps about the nature and scale of the road freight task ... and this continues to inhibit an effective transport infrastructure planning by government," Mrs Meyrick told WA Business News.

"The [study] aimed to address some of those gaps: understanding mining output volumes moved by roads; understanding the industrial inputs that are there to support the production of outputs, and other types of freight generated by mining from now through to 2031.

"For mining companies and proponents of projects to effectively and efficiently plan what they're going to do and what infrastructure they can rely on, this information is critical."

Mrs Meyrick explained that the current amount of road based inputs, that is the products coming in to support people, industry and mining activity, is similar to the outputs, at about 4.5 million tonnes each year.

But these figures are expected to grow as the population increases and future projects come online.

"Inputs are [forecast] at just under 8mt in 2012, going up to 8.5mt by 2018 if you think about our growth, which I don't think is going to change," she said.

"If the projects that are being, or that were being proposed at the time we did this study late last year still go ahead ... there's at least 12mt likely to be travelling on the Pilbara road network between mines and the ports.

"But there's a potential demand for 40mt to 60mt in 2012, and 100mt of output by 2018, according to the people we spoke to in Pilbara region.

"Already the road network is under pressure at 4.5mt."

When clarifying this with the state government last year, Mrs Meyrick was surprised to hear future mining projects may not go ahead as they won't receive government approval because they simply won't be permitted on the roads.

"There's no easy way of saying this, planning is inadequate and it's not just around transport infrastructure," she said.

 

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