Travelling Australia
Dampier - Iron Ore Port, WA.
At Dampier iron ore loaded on ships is carried by train from open cut mines far inland to Dampier. Here it is offloaded from the trains, sorted and stored then loaded into ships. There is no processing at Dampier which undertakes the basically simple task of taking rocks off trains and put them into ships. But the execution becomes complicated when the scale of the operation grows to the size it has here.

Ore is mined at the inland quarries and loaded in trains as fines (less than 6.3 mm diameter) or lump ore (between 6.3 and 31.5 mm diameter); Yandi fines are less than 10 mm in diameter. The trains to the coast are made up of 220 ore trucks pulled by two engines at the front of the train; total length is 2.4 kilometres. On arrival at Dampier the trucks are rotated through 120 degrees to tip out the ore which is then carried by conveyor belt along a causeway to an offshore island where ore is stockpiled before being loaded into bulk carriers for passage to customers in Japan, China, Korea or one of ten other countries around the world.

The port of Dampier was completed in 1966. Dampier is Australia's largest tonnage port, shipping more than 65 million tonnes of ore annually. The port holds the record for the largest tonnage loaded at an Australian port when 261,291 tonnes of ore were loaded in the Grand Phoenix in November 1995.

The loading wharf and ore stockpiles cannot be seen from the town of Dampier; they are behind the offshore island. Considerable attention has been given to stopping iron-ore dust spreading during handling and Hammersley Iron is proud of the way that the water in a major iron-ore port is so clean.

Ore stockpiled near the ship loading wharf. Each pile of ore is the load for one bulk carrier; the different colours indicate ore from different mines.
Dampier, WA, 4 August 2004.
Ore-loading terminal with bulk carrier alongside.
Dampier, WA, 4 August 2004.