BHP unveils $10 billion port expansion


Australia: BHP Billiton has released its Public Environmental Review (PER)/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) to seek Commonwealth and Western Australia government approvals for the proposed development of an outer harbour facility in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

At around US$10 billion, the proposed development is the primary part of BHP's planned $25 billion expansion of its West Australian iron ore business. The PER/Draft EIS will be available for public comment for a period of eight weeks.

The project will involve the construction and operation of landside and marine infrastructure for the handling and export of iron ore. The scope of the project assessed in the PER/Draft EIS includes:

  • rail connections and spur from the existing BHP Billiton Iron Ore Newman rail line to proposed stockyards at Boodarie;
  • rail loops at Boodarie;
  • stockyards and associated infrastructure at Boodarie;
  • an infrastructure corridor (including conveyors, access roadway and utilities) from the stockyards to the proposed marine jetty (offshore from Finucane Island);
  • an abutment, jetty, wharf, dredged channel, basins and berthing pockets offshore from Finucane Island, to accommodate bulk carriers; and
  • supporting infrastructure including access roads, upgrades to existing roads and utilities, buildings, temporary construction facilities and communication systems.

BHP Billiton Iron Ore said it would make investment decisions at each stage of the development subject to external factors at that time. The document was prepared based on an estimated throughput capacity of 240 million tonnes per annum for the outer harbour.

At this stage, the company anticipates that construction will be completed over four stages, with each stage nominally taking two to three years to complete. The timing and the composition of the stages will ultimately be dependant on market demand for iron ore as well as internal and external approvals and construction methodology.

The proposed outer harbour development

New ship loading facilities are proposed to be built to the north of Finucane Island. These will comprise an access jetty and wharf approximately four kilometres and two kilometres in length, respectively.

Four shiploaders will be installed, along with four wharf conveyors, to service the eight shiploading berths. The jetty conveyors will be constructed to transfer ore material from a transfer station on Finucane Island to a transfer deck, then onto the wharf conveyors and into the shiploaders.

The project will require dredging to enable vessel access to the wharf and for loaded vessels to depart to deep water. Dredging operations will create new berth pockets, swing basins, departure basins, a departure link channel to the existing shipping channel, a departure channel, a crossover link channel and tug access channel from the existing channel into the berth pockets. Dredged material, estimated to be approximately 54 million cubic metres, will be disposed at offshore spoil disposal grounds located in Commonwealth waters.

Landside infrastructure

The project will require material handling infrastructure. Iron ore will be transported from inland Pilbara mines along the existing BHP Billiton Iron Ore Port Hedland-Newman rail line and the proposed Western Spur rail line to proposed stockyard facilities at Boodarie.

Ore will be offloaded from the trains by car dumpers and either directly transported on overland conveyers through to the ships at the wharf facility or sent to the stockyard for storage or to the screening facilities.

Ore will be carried by overland conveyors from the Boodarie stockyards to a proposed transfer station on Finucane Island. The ore will then be conveyed across the marine jetty to the wharf and shiploaders.

A proposed infrastructure corridor, which will extend from the stockyards at Boodarie to the jetty on the northern shore of Finucane Island, will cross West Creek via an elevated causeway.

{WISroYQ symbol='BHP.AX'}

Disclosure: Members of the Baird family or companies in the Baird Publications group own shares in BHP Billiton. 

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