Pilbara iron ore rail plan delayed

The difficulty of delivering big infrastructure projects in Western Australia has today again been highlighted with the Pilbara multi-user iron ore rail line postponed by up to six months.

The rail line is the first true multi-user rail line, including QR National, Atlas Iron and Brockman Mining.

The West reported the delay of the feasibility study was confirmed by QR National chief executive Lance Hockridge.

"I would expect it (the study) would take us into the first half of next calendar year before either us alone or with our prospective customers are in a position to understand what the next steps are," he said.

Hockridge added the 50 year open access rail plan was "a scale and volume proposition" that could not be rushed.

"From a national interest point of view there is a sense of having the right infrastructure but not over-investing in infrastructure," he said.

Australian Mining announced the rail plan in April, saying the new rail line will rival existing developments by BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group.

QR National’s separate feasibility study was expected to be completed by December this year with construction finished as early as 2015.

The $3.5 billion project was expected to boost production and assist in the development of other sites in the southeast Pilbara.

However, cost blowouts, unstable iron ore prices, and uncertainty around company haulage amounts have all hampered progress.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.