Here comes the half conveyer-belt, half train hybrid
Australia's Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) is a mining services company supplying a wide range of services including remote site power and aerodrome services, plant processing and crushing, pipeline design, port logistics and sales.
The Perth-based company has operated BC Iron's 7mtpa Iron Valley mine in the central region of the Pilbara since August 2014. Ore is transported to Port Hedland and Mineral Resources says with mine and port supply upgrades tonnage can be more than doubled to 16mtpa.
The system is almost completely re-locatable once a resource is completely exhausted
That's where the $1.5 billion company's BOTS come in. That stands for Bulk Ore Transportation System and Iron Valley is potentially the first location where the system can be deployed.
BOTS is an autonomous elevated rail line that according to Mineral Resources occupies a niche between heavy rail and conveyor: BOTS employs an elevated below rail structure "comprising various designs, dependent on ground clearance requirements to satisfy track geometry, hydrology, topography, geotechnical conditions, and grade separation needs" reads the website.
BOTS has many advantages says Mineral Resources: It's significantly less capital intensive than traditional heavy-haul rail because the below rail design minimizes cut and fill earthworks during construction.
In addition it's much more environmentally friendly because it results in much less disturbance to surface water and fauna habitat. On top of that the system is almost completely re-locatable once a resource is completely exhausted.
Mineral Resource which will make the technology available to others says it has the potential "to open up significant mining assets long considered stranded."
Hat tip: Project Monitor