OPR was established to design, develop, construct and operate new deepwater port and rail infrastructure, based on the principle of open access, to facilitate the export of expanded production from mines in the mid-west region.
The development of iron ore mining in the region will stimulate economic growth in the coming decades, with OPR and its partners set to become key employers in the region.
OPR has designed an integrated and optimised multi-user railway and port logistics chain that meets the State Government’s performance requirements including:
- Development of an integrated logistics chain, to facilitate the efficient export of mineral products from the mid-west to global markets;
- Open access arrangements for third party port and rail infrastructure users;
- Berthing capacity for capesize vessels;
- Port and rail infrastructure capable of accommodating at least 35 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of ore, with capability for staged expansion to over 70mtpa; and
- A breakwater design to withstand major storm events.
In 2011, OPR and AECOM won a prestigious WA Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award for the Oakajee Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) Supply Chain Simulation in the Control Systems, Report and Procedures category.
The greenfields site for the Oakajee deepwater port is 24km north of Geraldton. The Oakajee site boasts a natural deep anchorage - one of very few such sites along Australia's west coast.
The port will have the capacity to accommodate capesize vessels to handle iron ore. The port’s initial capacity will be 45 million tonnes per annum, and this will be scalable as demand requires.
The state-of-the-art facilities at the Oakajee port is designed to control dust and minimize the impact on the coastal environment.
OPR has conducted a comprehensive set of baseline marine studies including:
- Seismic and geotechnical investigations over the port area;
- Wave analysis - non-cyclonic, cyclonic and long period wave;
- Under keel clearance;
- Initial vessel simulation;
- Barge loading and transit;
- Stability of breakwater;
- 2D (two dimensional) studies of breakwater;
- 3D (three dimensional) studies of breakwater; and
- Modelling of effects of dredge discharge water.
The new facility will help generate increased business in the region and provide fair and equitable access to iron ore producers.
OPR is developing a rail corridor connecting mid-west mines with the port at Oakajee, under the development rights granted by the State Development Agreement.
OPR’s rail will be a heavy haul single track standard gauge iron ore railway with passing loops that is designed to meet an initial port export capacity of 45 million tonnes per annum. This can be expanded in small, efficient steps towards capacity of 80-100 million tonnes per annum. The system has been designed to handle iron ore from the various mines including lump, fines and magnetite concentrate.
The rail corridor will also permit spur lines from the mines to the south east in the Karara and Koolanooka areas to interconnect to Oakajee when required. The railway to Weld Range and Jack Hills has a length of approximately 570km.
Engineering for the Bankable Feasibility Study is complete and work on detailed design is underway.
The process to nominate a rail corridor is underpinned by comprehensive feasibility studies and extensive stakeholder consultation.
A host of technical, social, heritage and environmental factors have been considered in developing the alignment. These range from land topography and the impact on flora and fauna, to existing infrastructure. The proposed rail corridor is designed to minimise community and environmental impacts by avoiding towns, heritage sites and high value conservation areas and where possible, residences.
In October 2011, the State Government announced conditional approval of the Oakajee Rail Corridor Nomination Report (RCNR) (Revision 18). Legislation is now required to create the Oakajee (Port and Rail) Act (working title) defining the legal parameters by which the rail is constructed and operates within the designated corridor, which will require passage through both Houses of Parliament.
Approval of the RCNR is the culmination of extensive feasibility studies and ongoing consultation with landholders, local government and key government agencies.