The expansion of iron ire mining at the start of the 21st century saw tremendous growth in the Pilbara region. Most mineral exploration and iron ore mining activities in the north-west Hamersley Range are associated with channel-iron deposits. These ancient, iron-rich alluvial sediments occupy meandering palaeochannels incised into basement rocks. They are also important regional aquifer systems containing valuable low-salinity groundwater.
The lack of low-salinity water resources on the Pilbara coast and the high cost of desalination was behind the need for an improved understanding of groundwater resources in the north-west Hamersley Range.
We undertook the desktop Hamersley Ranges assessment as part of the statewide Royalties for Regions Regional Water Availability program.
What we did during the investigation
Through the desktop Hamersley Range assessment we:
- collated, reviewed, analysed and verified data from the former departments of Water and Mines and Petroleum, mining companies and other sources to identify potential groundwater sources
- described each potential source in terms of its hydrology and hydrogeology
- highlighted any considerations for groundwater development, including ecological and cultural values and potential impacts on existing groundwater users
- ranked prospective areas to help prioritise investigations to refine the findings of this assessment.
Key findings and how we are using the information
We identified and quantified seven prospective areas with the potential to supply low-salinity, fit-for-purpose groundwater for West Pilbara towns, industry and irrigated horticulture. Water users and managers can use the updated knowledge this project has provided to support groundwater licence applications, and we will use it to manage groundwater resources.
Where to get more details
The Prospectivity of new Hamersley Range groundwater resources fact sheet summarises our activities in the north-west Hamersley Range.
You can find the detailed hydrogeological assessment in Groundwater assessment of the north-west Hamersley Range, HG62.
Read more about our groundwater investigations by region across Western Australia.