A $5 billion infrastructure project proposed for South Australia will help boost iron ore exports to more than 100 million tonnes per year, the state government says.
The South Australian Government has given major development status to the Braemar Bulk Export Project, which will link the upper Spencer Gulf to iron ore resources in the state’s north-east.
If approved, the project will include four underground iron ore slurry pipelines, road and four water pipelines.
A floating processing, storage and offloading facility has also been proposed in Spencer Gulf, north of Wallaroo.
Deputy Premier and Planning Minister John Rau said the state would now assess the environmental impacts of the proposed project, ABC reported.
"It will be up to the people proposing the project to make arrangements for access to relevant land, but this is the approval process so we're now going to go through an environmental impact process and various other processes to make sure this is an appropriate project to get a final sign-off," he said.
"Major development status allows for the most sophisticated and thorough set of planning approvals available within our planning regime.
"There is a strong level of scrutiny applied to the project's assessment, with significant consultation requirements."
The state's Infrastructure and Mineral Resources Minister, Tom Koutsantonis, said the corridor would allow for a high-volume iron ore exporting solution.
''The project will allow for an eight-fold increase in the amount of iron ore currently being exported and provide a 385-kilometre infrastructure corridor,'' Koutsantonis said.
Gordon Toll from Braemar Infrastructure said $3 billion would need to be raised before the project could go ahead, but was confident the money can be sort.
"We're a private company we'll probably stay that way for some time, because one of our major sources of finances will be private equity groups," Toll said.
"There is a lot of money out there for private equity, investment groups looking for something just like this to invest in."
The project has been welcomed by miners who say the pipeline would allow expansion projects near Broken Hill to ramp up.
Carpentaria Exploration managing director Quentin Hill said while his company was planning on exporting iron ore by rail, the pipeline would beneficial.
"We're not relying on a pipeline export route; we're relying on rail and port infrastructure that's already in place and that's a real bonus for our project," Hill said.
"But this pipeline project, if it gets off the ground, would allow us to expand more cheaply, which would bring benefits to Broken Hill."