An underground pipeline will be used to transport iron ore more than 100km across WA’s north-west after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the project a green light.
Aurox Resources’ $200 million slurry pipeline will deliver magnetite from Whim Creek to Port Hedland and do away with the need for multi-million-dollar roads and rail lines.
Aurox CEO Charles Schuas told MINING DAILY the project will deliver a range of benefits by keeping trucks off the road.
“It will minimise noise and dust from transporting methods such as road and rail, which will benefit the environment and the wider community,” he said.
The pipeline will combine water and ore concentrate to produce a thick slurry which can be freely pumped. The product will then be transported to Port Hedland, where the water is extracted and the concentrate is shipped to overseas customers.
According to Schuas, the project will also deliver significant cost savings that will enable the company to boost production at its Balla Balla magnetite operation.
“As opposed to $12-15 per tonne to deliver magnetite by road or rail, the cost of pumping the product is only $1 per tonne,” he said. “Everybody wins with this project.”
Underground pipelines are only suitable for specific resources, such as magnetite and iron ore, and require large amounts of water to pump concentrates through lengthy systems.
Currently in use at two magnetite projects in Australia, Schuas is positive the project will pave the way for more developments in the future.
“There will be a growing market for projects like these as the demand for magnetite increases,” he said.
Aurox is now seeking funding for the project. The company expects construction will be complete by early 2012.