Power lines go underground to aid machinery transport

Powerlines between Perth and Pilbara will go underground in a move to cut delays and red tape in moving massive mining machinery.

It comes after miners have spent the past decade complaining of long lead times in permit approvals, police escorts and the need to raise powerlines during transportation.

WA transport minister Troy Buswell explained that "each time the lines are lifted the industry must pay Western Power or Horizon Power and, with the increase in movements of oversize loads, this cost – which is passed on to customers – is also increasing".

Buswell yesterday unveiled plans for a single application process for oversize load permits and clearance, slashing the planning times.

"Given the significance of the resources industry to the Western Australian economy, we need to make sure Government does what it can to allow the heavy haulage industry to operate as efficiently as possible," he said.

Buswell’s plan involved burying eight powerlines along the Grent Northern Highway between Perth and Newman.

The eight powerlines consist of two in Bindoon, three in Miling, and one in Pithara, Dalwallinu, and Wubin.

It will focus first on lines with a clearance of 6.5 metres, with higher lines to be considered after.

It will run over two months and cost around a quarter of million dollars, with Buswell adding that it will save companies approximately $15 000 per transportation.

"Given there were 849 oversize permits issued for loads travelling this route in 2011, the undergrounding of these lines will mean up to 90% of these loads will no longer require Western Power supervision," Buswell said.

"Once completed, Main Roads will look to identify other areas where this initiative will provide benefits to the transport industry."

There were approximately 90 applications a day for heavy equipment transportation since the start of this year.

On the back of this change Police have also looked to increase their involvement, adding another six people to the escort process.

WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy director David Callachor welcomed Buswell’s initiative, saying it would lift some of the burden from mining and transport companies.


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