Mooted rail link welcomed
Tuesday, 6th May, 2014
By Andrew Robertson
A possible freight rail link between Mildura and Menindee has been welcomed by mining companies who say it will further “open up the region’s resources”.
The Victorian Government announced on the weekend it would spend up to $220 million on a long-awaited rail upgrade between Mildura and Geelong.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the project would provide a major boost for the Murray Basin region which exports more than $3 billion worth of food and mineral resources every year.
The project, which will see the broad gauge track converted to standard gauge, would improve freight access to ports in Portland, Geelong and Melbourne for exports, he said.
Mr Ryan said it would also “pave the way” for the possible creation of a new transcontinental rail link between Mildura and Menindee.
One of the companies behind the $2 billion Hawsons iron project southwest of Broken Hill said a Mildura-Menindee rail link could be used in any future expansion of the project.
Carpentaria Exploration said it was committed to a start-up case for the project using existing infrastructure.
The company has a Memorandum of Understanding in place with Flinders Ports for the potential exports of Hawsons iron concentrate via Port Pirie.
“However, the Victorian Government’s planned extension of a freight rail link from Mildura to Menindee, providing potential access to the port of Portland, is a welcome development as it provides another option for the future expansion of Hawsons, creating long-term jobs, exports and investment,” managing director Quentin Hill told the BDT.
Mr Hill said he welcomed any move by governments to expand infrastructure access to Broken Hill that would help “further open up the region’s resources” for the community’s benefit.
Mineral sands miner Cristal Mining said it was also unlikely to use a rail link that provided access to Victorian ports.
Cristal dredges for mineral sands near Pooncarie and processes the material in Broken Hill before railing it to Adelaide for export.
Managing director Dominic Manganaro told the BDT yesterday that the company was unlikely to change the structure any time soon.
He said the company recently spent about $44 million upgrading its infrastructure in Broken Hill.
“I don’t really see any change in the way we’re structured because it is the most economical route,” he said.
According to Mr Ryan, the Murray Basin Rail Project was also the first step in the return of passenger rail to Mildura.
Mildura’s passenger rail service was axed by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett in 1993.