An innovative method to transfer iron ore from shore to ship, removing the need for dredging, has allowed a multi-user iron ore port in the Pilbara to be recommended for approval by the Environmental Protection Authority.
The proposal by foundation proponent Iron Ore Holdings to develop and operate the first stage of the iron ore export facility at Cape Preston East, about 60 km south-west of Dampier, includes the construction of a 200 metre rock supporting structure extending offshore and a 1.5 km trestle jetty.
EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said conveyors would be installed on the trestle jetty to transport iron ore onto a barge.
Self-powered barges will transfer the iron ore to a large transhipment vessel moored approximately 18 km offshore in deep water.
“This proposal is state-of-the-art, not only avoiding the need for dredging but also the construction of massive breakwaters and therefore limiting the impact to the marine environment,” Dr Vogel said.
The proposal also includes a 20 million tonne per annum stockyard, a permanent desalination plant, an access road corridor from the North Coast Highway, office buildings, fuel farm, waste management facilities, workshops and an accommodation camp. Road trains transporting iron ore to the stockyard will use an existing causeway over a tidal creek from the North Coast Highway.
Dr Vogel said the proposal could be managed to meet the EPA’s environmental objectives if the eight recommended conditions were implemented.
“The main environmental factors considered by the EPA included potential impacts to marine fauna,” Dr Vogel said.
“The EPA has recommended marine fauna observers be on duty during construction and maintain a log of cetaceans, dugongs and marine turtle behaviour, with no construction to commence until the observer has verified no cetaceans or dugongs are within a radius of 1000 metres or marine turtles are within a radius of 300 metres.
“Marine construction will also avoid the turtle nesting period between October 20 and March 10 on any given year.”
Other conditions ensure proper management to minimise the threat of the introduction of marine pests into state waters.
The multi-user port will be managed by the Dampier Port Authority.
Press Release, May 20, 2013