Train load out
A heavy haulage railway is used to carry the iron ore from the inland mining operations to the port, so that it can be shipped overseas.
BHP Billiton Iron Ore operates around 12 loaded and12 unloaded trains every day of the year. There are two separate single track rail lines: one running from Port Hedland to the Newman area; and the other running between Port Hedland and the Yarrie mine.
The 426-kilometre railway line from Newman to Nelson Point is one of Australia’s longest privately-owned railways. It services the mines - with spur lines to Mt Whaleback, Orebodies 18, 23, 25 and 29, Jimblebar, Yandi and Area C – with the longest and heaviest trains in the world.
A typical train will have six, 6,000 horsepower locomotives pulling more than 26,000 tonnes of ore. Most trains are 208 cars, each carrying approximately 125 tonnes of ore.The trains are up to 3.75 kilometres long and the journey from Newman to Port Hedland takes approximately eight hours.
A 208-kilometre rail line links the Yarrie mine with Finucane Island. The trains are smaller on this line, with one locomotive pulling as many as 90 ore cars.
The Company’s 114 locomotives and almost 4,000 ore cars represent a major investment - each locomotive costs more than $6 million.
BHP Billiton’s iron ore rail system is one of the most technologically advanced and efficient in the world. The rail lines also form a key part of the iron ore production process, delivering to port in specific volumes and sequences for blending into final products.
All train movements are managed from a traffic control centre at Port Hedland. Specialised computer software and digital communications powered by solar technology control train movements, warn about unsafe conditions and weigh the ore cars as they pass by.