The construction of railway in the State of Western Australia requires a State Agreement to be negotiated with the State and an Act of Parliament to be passed. The State Agreement was signed on 23rd January 2017 and it is proposed that the Balla Balla Act enter Parliament for approval in the near term.
The BBI railway consists of 160km single track standard gauge railway connecting Balla Balla port with the Railhead Stockyard and into the central Pilbara region. The heavy haul railway design has been completed to a Class 1 standard and is typical of the Pilbara and has the ability to carry 40 tonne axle loads. The BBI Railway and its major sub-components have been designed for a 50 year design life.
The current alignment includes one bridge structure on the BBI railway being the road over rail bridge crossing the North West Coastal Highway 12km west of the town of Whim Creek. The rail embankment includes 30km of drainage culverts across the Sherlock and Fortescue rivers. These rivers are crossed with large banks of 3.3m diameter culverts.
Each BBI consist will hold approximately 23,100 tonne of iron ore and will comprise 170 wagons with each to be powered by three distributed power diesel locomotives, 2 locomotives at the head and one at the rear. The round trip from port to port will take an average of 11 Hours.
The design of the rail alignment and formations sufficient to support a Class 1 cost estimate was completed in 2015. The rail travels through a diversity of terrain from river flats to relatively steep escarpments. The horizontal alignment was determined after detailed consultations with the traditional owners of the land, consultation and agreement with pastoral lease holders, proper consideration of all environmental issues, and detailed geotechnical assessment of the route.
At its southern end the rail system will finish within level and open country with significant stockyard capacity. The initial stockyard design will be comprised of 2 rows of three 200,000 tonnes stockpiles, with a slewing and luffing stacker operating up to 11,100 tonne per hour and a bucket wheel reclaimer operating up to 12,700 tonne per hour. Product is fed to the stockyard via overland conveyors from nearby mines in the central Pilbara. The reclaim circuit feeds a single outlet gravimetric train loader typical of the Pilbara and capable of loading wagons up to 11,500 tonne per hour.