Brockman Mining has reported the results of a study evaluating the potential for it to build an independent railway to connect its Marillana iron ore project, and later its Ophthalmia iron ore project, in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia to Port Hedland. The Marillana project is located 300 km south of Port Hedland and has the potential to produce up to 20 million mt/y over a period of 20 years. Brockman has been unable to negotiate access to existing rail systems, and an independent railway is one of a number of logistics options that the company is considering for delivery of its iron ore to port.
The current study was completed by Engenium Pty, a Perth-based engineering company. The study contemplates construction of a standard-gauge rail line based on 26-mt axle loads and incorporating the Ausbeam Track System (a ballast-less track system with continuous rail support). The overall design is expected to significantly reduce capital costs in comparison to a traditional Pilbara heavy-haul railway system.
The study assumes an initial rail capacity of 30 million mt/y to a designated berth in Port Hedland, with potential to expand to 50 million mt/y to accommodate use by other junior miners.
Based on the results of the study, Brockman is initiating a prefeasibility study of the rail project and is in discussions with Western Australian government departments on railway construction and port access requirements.
Meanwhile, Brockman plans to begin mining at Marillana at a low-level production rate of 2.5 million mt/y, utilizing road haulage to port.
The Marillana project has 101.9 million mt of direct-shipping ore resources at a grade of 55.5% iron and 1.5 billion mt of beneficiation-feed resources at a grade of 42.6% iron.
A definitive feasibility study of Marillana mine development was completed in September 2010. Brockman intends to update the study as soon as it has established a rail infrastructure solution for the project.