The Environmental Protection Authority has approved the construction of the Pilbara Sky Rail.
The Pilbara Sky Rail, proposed by Mineral Resources Limited, will be 330km long and up to 6m off the ground.
Designed to transport iron ore from the Iron Valley project near Newman to Port Hedland, the Pilbara Sky Rail represents an impressive innovation in mining freight logistics.
Construction of the Pilbara Sky Rail will be a sticky process, especially regarding approvals. The proposed route crosses through over 20 different mining tenements, as well as four native title claims, seven pastoral leases and a load of crown land.
The Pilbara Sky Rail will be head and shoulders above other railways in the region, literally. It will pass over railways owned by other mining firms, such as Roy Hill, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metal Group.
Over it's 330km length, most of the Pilbara Sky Rail will be at least two metres above ground. In some areas, such as crossing other tracks, it will be up to 6m high.
There are a raft of benefits that come with the Pilbara Sky Rail both economic and environmental. Building the railway above the land removes the need for a large amount of earthmoving and the subsequent cut and fill that disrupts habitats for local flora and fauna.
The railway will be supported by concrete beams along its length, with a significantly reduced footprint compared to traditional rail methods.
Another huge advantage of this structure is moveability. Once local resources are exhausted, the railway will be easier to move to a new location.
Furthermore, the Pilbara Sky Rail will carry autonomous rail cars - operated from a control centre elsewhere.
Many more approvals are yet to come, including from local Indigenous leaders, pastoral lease holders and government regulatory bodies.
Workers will be housed in existing camps, however there will still be plenty of demand for mobile site buildings and accommodation in new work camp locations.