IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW YOUR COMPATRIOTS IN OTHER COUNTRIES MOVE LARGE LOADS, YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. FOR THE FIRST FOCUS ON OVERSEAS MOVEMENTS, RICHARD TEW HEADS TO AUSTRALIA
Take a trip to the vast, but sparsely populated, region of North West Australia – known to the locals as The Pilbara – and you find a place that is rich in mineral resources, especially iron ore, for which there is a huge demand from the developing economies such as China.
There are a number of large open-cast mines in this region, each working hard to satisfy the demand for this mineral, and with new mines opening up, heavy haulage companies are extremely busy supplying both plant and equipment to the area. The two main ports where most of the large equipment is imported through are Perth, in the South, and Port Headland, in the North.
Port Headland is mainly used for shipping out vast quantities of extracted minerals, so the lion’s share of the equipment comes in via Perth, which is where most of the big dealers, such as Liebherr and Caterpillar, have depots. It’s almost 1,000 miles from Perth to the Pilbara, and the main route is known as the ‘Great Northern Highway’, which stretches 1,630 miles from Perth to Port Headland.
It is surprising just how much heavy traffic uses this road. With no rail network servicing the Perth to Pilbara route, everything has to travel by truck, including supplies, fuel, accommodation units and, of course, heavy equipment. Two, three and even four trailer-road-trains are a common sight heading North all with all the essentials required to support the huge mining operation. For the first 170 miles North from Perth, only two trailers are allowed, therefore extra trailers are picked up at a road-train assembly area before continuing their long journeys North, with only a few truck stops and isolated communities to break the monotony.