Later this year I will present a petition to parliament to reopen the railway line between Bunbury and Greenbushes on behalf of concerned members of the South West community.
In anticipation of this, I encourage everybody who supports freight on rail to print copies and collect at least 20 signatures.
This petition must be returned to my office by 1 August 2019 (details below). This petition must not be altered or otherwise marked up or amended. Only original signatures are permitted.
Please return this Petition by 1 August 2019 to:
Hon. Diane Evers MLC of PO Box 949, West Perth WA 6872
The transport of lithium is a significant issue requiring serious and urgent consideration from government. Over the past year I have supported calls for the State Government to pursue the improvement and development of railway infrastructure from the Talison Greenbushes mine.
With the potential impact of substantial increases in truck traffic through the local community and along South Western Highway as a result of road freight movements, a rail freight solution between the lithium mine, lithium refineries and the ports of Bunbury and Kwinana needs serious consideration.
The use of rail to transport Lithium from the Greenbushes mine would remove a significant number of trucks from the South Western Highway, and thereby:
- Increase the safety of road users;
- Reduce noise pollution, air pollution and carbon emissions;
- Reduce maintenance and associated costs
- Reduce heavy traffic passing through Balingup, Mullalyup, Kirup, Donnybrook and Boyanup towns;
- Retain the aesthetic values and quality of life in Balingup, Mullalyup, Kirup, Donnybrook and Boyanup towns for local residents, visitors and tourists; and
- Allow for further rail freight movements of products in other industries.
In response to my Question Without Notice (1212) on 22 November 2018, the State Government indicated the consideration of rail is an issue to be decided between Talison, the Greenbushes mine operator, and Arc Infrastructure, leaseholders of the land the mine and existing rail infrastructure:
“The government is not a party to the negotiations. However, it understands that the negotiations between Talison and Arc are ongoing. Whether the rail line will be returned to operating condition will depend on the negotiations between Talison and Arc.”
This isn’t good enough. If Arc Infrastructure determines it would be uneconomical to return this line to operating condition, there should be action taken by the State Government to resume control of the rail line, given that:
- Arc Infrastructure, understandably, have no interest unless they are able to make an acceptable level of profit;
- The current lease allows Arc to determine that the line is uneconomic, and as such not use it, to the detriment of the state and other potential end users;
- To make full use of rail, would require significant capital investment, which would increase the value of the existing asset and associated ports;
- Experts in Sustainable Infrastructure Development have stated that the value of the trade over twenty to thirty years justifies the rail line upgrade. (Detail can be supplied on request);
- Rick Wilson, Federal Member for O’Connor, has stated his support on ABC radio, indicating an application could be made for federal infrastructure funding;
- Over the life of the mine there will be a substantial number of road train movements, 200 per day at peak production, based on current expectations. These truck movements will require, increased road funding for construction, maintenance and policing/emergency services, between Greenbushes and the processing facilities at Kemerton and Kwinana. Much of this cost will fall to the WA State Government.
- Additional truck movements will cause further congestion at the Kwinana facilities which could be avoided using rail infrastructure; and
- Following processing of spodumene into lithium mineral concentrate at Kemerton and Kwinana, there would be additional transport movements to transport the tailings or waste material. This transport of tailings, would also make use of the rail infrastructure.
I have recently met with representatives from Talison, Arc and the SWDC regarding the re-commissioning of the South West Rail line. The results of the pre-feasibility study indicate that a rail option is financially competitive with road transport and would alleviate community safety and environmental concerns. There is also the potential to expand rail freight to other users, thus increasing the benefits to communities and the State.
I appeal to the State Government to take action, and go against previous government political trends away from rail, by supporting the re-commissioning of the freight lines for the benefit of the State.