SHARP Airlines has weighed in with a possible solution to the issue of transporting explosives to King Island. The King Island Courier last week revealed the Stanley, Devonport and King Island ports are without approval for explosives and dangerous goods.
It means the island’s tungsten mine at Grassy could be left without the explosives needed to operate due to an inability to land the dangerous goods at the island’s port. Sharp Airlines managing director Malcolm Sharp said the company had previously flown explosives into Tasmania for mining operators when shipping services have been delayed or unreliable.
“Sharp Airlines has experience with this and could assist with a dedicated freight flight outside of passenger schedules,” Mr Sharp said. “We do need to seek Regulatory approval which has not been denied in the past and the airport needs to close for around 30 minutes until the aircraft has landed and the explosive have left the airport.
“In the past we have used a remote country airfield in Victoria as the departure point and the same protocols apply. “All operations are timed to occur outside scheduled passenger services so as to not adversely affect the travelling public. “There are a few additional protocols that need to occur but they are not overly difficult to archive. “We would be open to an approach from G6M to see if we can mark this happen for them and the King Island community.”
His suggestion received support from others following the story via the Courier’s Facebook page. “Before the mine closed in 1990 aircraft were often used to freight explosives,” Greg Duckett said.
Russell Inglis also backed the idea. “Well done Sharp Airlines, good to see someone thinking.”
However, G6M general manager Chas Murcott said bulk explosives needed to be moved by ship. He said G6M was working closely with TasPorts and others to secure the supply chain. “Detonators and accessories can be transported by air subject to strict permitting conditions and G6M will consider under special circumstances,” Mr Murcott said. “I need to stress that we have been working closely with Tasports and others for several months in getting the entire explosives logistics chain from supplier to mine permitted. “This involves input from several regulating authorities and service providers which we are steadily working through and currently not anticipating any delays to production.”
The Dolphin Tungsten Mine is a hard rock mining operation requiring explosives to break the rock before it is dug up. Drilling and blasting is planned to commence in December 2022 with convention open pit explosives using Ammonium Nitrate emulsion in accordance with their permits to operate.
The Devonport Port has no approved berths for HD 1.1, 1.2 explosives, and 1.1D prohibited such as blasting explosives. Stanley and King Island Ports are without approval for Explosives and Dangerous Goods (DG) 5.1. TasPorts chief operating officer Stephen Casey said the transport of explosives was regulated by WorkSafe Tasmania. “Importation of explosives to Grassy is currently not permitted,” Mr Casey said. “Taking account of that, TasPorts is working with G6M to identify the best solution that will meet all regulatory requirements, recognising that there is a process that needs to be followed and led by G6M.”
The company remains on track for scheduled production in the first quarter 2023.