And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Port Hedland - Big Trains, Big Money

During the recent Wodgina fauna survey a few weeks ago near Port Hedland, the survey sites were often located between the two major mining railway lines, seeing an iron ore train every few minutes was a daily event.




The big mining player in the Pilbara, BHP-Billiton, wouldn't let the new  mining company FMG share their railway, so he went and built his own alongside.

 






Here's some interesting information from the web about these iron ore trains. Each train is operated by a single driver, and comprises up to 234 ore cars, each ore car with a load capacity of approximately 106 tonnes. A fully loaded train weighs approximately 29,500 tonnes and is about 2.4 kilometres in length.

 


I was told that each ore car has up to $25 000 of iron ore in it.

 


That's a lot of ore cars and a lot of money being made. The record is the world’s longest train with eight GE AC6000CW locomotives and 682 ore cars operated over 275 kilometres in the Newman to Port Hedland section on 21 June 2001. The train length was 7.353 kilometres




One of our survey sites was near the railway bridge over the now dry Hunter River.

 


Trains are not the only things using the railway bridge.

 


Underneath were dozens upon dozens of Fairy Martin nests, often using the rainwater downpipes for extra support.



There must be vast numbers of Fairy Martins when it rains and they can collect mud for their bottle-shaped nests.

 


The scenery near the railways is fantastic.

 


Trains continue to travel day and night. Soon these train may lose their drivers and be totally automated.

 


One of our survey sites was near the old BHP-Billiton's hot briquetted iron plant.


 

Big money is made and some big money lost. BHP-Billiton's hot briquetted iron (HBI) plant in Port Hedland, in north-west Western Australia, is being demolished.
Production at the plant stopped in 2004 when a gas explosion killed one worker and seriously burnt two others. It took BHP three years to build and produce the first briquette from the $2.4 billion plant.
A year later, the company had to write off the entire value of the plant because of low production, low prices and expensive modifications.







The trains roll on!

5 comments:

Stu said...

Martins nest under the local bridges here too, there the similarities end though!

Great images, the blues/reds/yellows are something we just don't see here in Japan.

Sciarada said...

Hi Richard, a magnificent documentation on the railway lines and excellent perspective into picture number one

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