RPS was recently engaged by Aurizon Operations Ltd to complete a water supply optimisation and feasibility level design investigation for the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project (WPIOP), which is Aurizon’s first rail project for in Western Australia. RPS was engaged under the Australia-wide panel contract agreement between Aurizon and RPS for the provision of environmental services that was initiated in July 2013.
The WPIOP is being developed by the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture; a 50/50 joint venture between Aquila Steel Pty Ltd (owned 85% by Baosteel and 15% by Aurizon) and AMCI (IO) Pty Ltd and Posco. As part of the overall project, it is proposed to construct a 245km rail line from iron ore operations near Pannawonica, to a new port at Anketell point, 25km east of Karratha, with a production and railing capacity of 40 million tonnes per annum.
RPS has worked on the project previously with Australian Premium Iron, from 2010 to 2012. During this time, rail construction water supplies were installed along some of the planned rail alignment. The current investigation builds on the previous work completed, to bring the entire rail construction water supply scheme up to a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) level of confidence. A desk top assessment was completed initially, to identify potential target production bore sites over the remainder of the rail corridor and optimisation modelling to develop the most cost effective water supply system design. The modelling also included options for using unused capacity at existing Water Corporation pipelines in the northern part of the rail corridor.
The optimisation model, an EXCEL based spreadsheet model using the EVOLVER add-on package, was developed in-house by RPS over a number of years working on similar rail water supply projects in the Pilbara. The model takes into account the reliability of known and potential water sources, the costs of developing some sources versus the cost of piping water from others and the overall costs of water delivery.
Completion of the overall water supply scheme (i.e. drilling/installation of outstanding bores and engineering works to reticulate water supplies to construction water demand points, ahead of the commencement of construction) is currently expected to be in 2016.