AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Oakajee halt no killer blow, mid-west miners say

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> WA’s mid-west magnetite industry says the province can grow into an export hub, despite Mitsubishi shelving plans for the region’s long-touted infrastructure saviour – the Oakajee Port and Rail project. </span> <p>By Mike Foley</p><p>Mitsubishi abandoned its Oakajee plans last week. The project was proposed as an iron ore export port and rail supply chain to service the mid-west region’s growing mining industry.</p><p>But according to the chief executive of the Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance, Rob Jeffries, existing facilities at Geraldton Port can revive the Oakajee project by providing a path for the long-term viability of the fleet of developing magnetite plays.</p><p>An initial ramp-up to 30mtpa of magnetite exports from the mid-west will provide renewed impetus to get the Oakajee project up and running, Jeffries said.</p><p>Gindalbie Metals is currently exporting magnetite concentrate at around 8mtpa and plans to ramp up to 16mtpa. Asia Iron is the most advanced of the Mid West hopefuls, and plans to export 10mtpa through Geraldton via slurry pipeline.</p><p>“Geraldton will meet the needs of the industry for the next 3-5 years&hellip We believe Geraldton has 25-30mtpa capacity. It should accommodate a couple of substantial projects,” Jeffries said.</p><p>“Once we get up to about 30mtpa of magnetite exports, all the things that come with that will be established, namely investment partners and customers. Then the industry will be in a good position to support the development of Oakajee.”</p><p>In September 2012, Gindalbie opened its $200m iron ore terminal at Geraldton Port, with capacity of 16mtpa.</p><p>At the same time, Brookfield upgraded its rail line from the mid-west mining regions, located some 200km east of the coastline, into Geraldton Port.</p><p>The upgrade cost $500m, laid 185km of new track and boosted capacity to 27.5mtpa.</p><p>However, according to Jeffries, a little bit of tweaking to Geraldton Port’s infrastructure will be required to accommodate additional exports.</p><p>Gindalbie’s shiploader and train unloader has been built to accommodate 16mtpa and Asia Iron are looking at converting Geraldton’s Berth 6 to handle iron ore exports, Jeffries said.</p><p>“Some improvements are required to get it up to capacity: to the berthing and engineering works to rectify a wave energy problem that will help improve utilisation of the port and an upgrade to the power supply into the port.”</p><p><em>*This story was originally published by Australian Bulk Handling Review</em>: <a href="http://www.bulkhandling.com.au/" target="_blank">www.bulkhandling.com.au/</a><br />&nbsp</p>