Mining states approve rail links

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: The synergy between resources and infrastructure has been highlighted by the approval of new railway projects in both of the country’s major mining jurisdictions.

Aquila Resources announced it has received conditional approval from the Western Australian Minister for the Environment for the construction and operation of mining and associated infrastructure, including a rail line to transport ore to port, for the West Pilbara iron ore project, in which the company holds a 50 per cent interest.

The Environmental Minister’s approval follows the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities’ recent conditional approval for the project.

“The project participants have advised that they accept the conditions imposed by the Minister,” Aquila Resources said in its ASX announcement.

“These two approvals allow the various decision making authorities within the Western Australian government to consider, and if deemed appropriate, approve submissions for the development and operation of facilities for the mine site and the proposed 282 kilometre railway to Anketell Port.”

Aquila said that besides both Federal and State Departments with responsibility for the environment are considering the proposed development of Anketell Port, an Environmental Protection Authority Report is expected to be received in early 2012.

The company said Ministerial approvals are anticipated in the second quarter of 2012.


Mine and Rail locations. Source: Aquila company announcement

Over in Queensland the State Government has approved the development scheme for the Surat Basin Infrastructure Corridor State Development Area.

This area contains the route for the Surat Basin Rail link to the Port of Gladstone via the existing QR Network Moura rail line.

According to an ASX release from Stanmore Coal, the Queensland Government has previously identified this rail line to be critical as it will allow new mines to open in the Surat Basin by enabling them to export of coal from the Port of Gladstone.

The Surat Basin Rail Joint Venture is working under an exclusive mandate granted by the Queensland Government to develop the project as an open access coal and freight railway.

Stanmore Coal said granting this key Government approval will allow the SBR joint venture to move to land acquisition and construction, which the company said it understands to be scheduled to commence in late 2012 with first coal on rail due in 2015.

“We are very pleased to see this key approval milestone achieved which clears the way for the construction of the Surat Basin Rail,” Stanmore Coal managing director Nick Jorss said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“This is an important event for The Range, our five million tonnes per annum export thermal coal project, which remains on track to commence construction in 2013 and deliver coal two years later.”

Stanmore Coal said it has applied for five million tonnes of capacity on the SBR to deliver high quality export thermal coal from The Range project from 2015 onwards.

The company’s Range project is located in the north of the Surat Basin some 27 kilometres south east of the planned SBR line.

Stanmore Coal has also obtained seven million tonnes per annum of priority capacity rights at the proposed Wiggins Island Coal Export Coal Terminal Stage 2 at Gladstone.

The company said it understands capacity at SBR and WICET 2 is due to be allocated shortly, in advance of planned financial close of both projects in mid-2012.