Kalgoorlie-Boulder's potential as a major national inland port at the centre of a Western Australian `mineral corridor' has been outlined in a study released in the city today.
Deputy Premier and Goldfields Minister Ian Taylor says the report, prepared by transport economists Ritama Flood and Professor Peter Newman, details immediate cost-savings and long-term benefits to the region and Western Australia.
As well, the report identifies a major new tourism circuit with Kalgoorlie as the gateway from the Eastern States for the historic interior and then on to the North-West and coastal areas.
The report concludes that Kalgoorlie as an inland port could serve as:
· a distribution point for northbound freight;
· a distribution point for southbound freight down the corridor to Esperance;
· a railhead for the Port of Esperance for both imports and exports;
· an aggregation centre for eastbound rail freight; and -
· a railhead for freight from South East Asia to the Eastern States, via a northern port.
Flood and Newman's report says the potential of Kalgoorlie to achieve these five major transport tasks can be fulfilled if, in the first instance, the road between Kalgoorlie and the Great Northern Highway is fully sealed and, later, when further resource developments are assured in the North of the State, a railway is built to connect Kalgoorlie with the North.
The report puts the cost of the road options at between $80 million and $150 million, as identified by previous studies.
The rail option is costed at $391 million (including upgrading required) and could be staged as mineral developments, like Mount Keith, are opened up.
Flood and Newman say the terminal infrastructure costs associated with Kalgoorlie's potential role as a trans-shipping centre would be minimal.
The cost-savings due to the shorter distance traversed by the freight range from $3.52 million for a freight task of 150,000 tonnes to $23.43 million for a freight task of one million tonnes per annum.
As well, the report identifies positive environmental impacts, eg: fuel conservation, reductions in atmospheric emissions etc, and longer-term social benefits associated with opening up inland Western Australia.
Mr Taylor said today the option of a railway connecting Kalgoorlie to the north of Western Australia by linking the existing Kalgoorlie-Leonora line with the track from Newman to Port Hedland had been examined recently by the Department of State Development.
"The concept of changing the pattern of freight movemnet throughout Western Australia by converging the east-west corridor with an improved north-south link at Kalgoorlie is an exciting one," Mr Taylor said.
"I will be supporting the study's recommendation for a detailed master plan to be drawn up on the proposed north-south oriented `mineral corridor' focussing on Kalgoorlie as the inland port.
"The benefits to the transport industry, tourism and regional employment of the inland port proposal are enormous."