The state’s ports could handle a trade of more than one billion tonnes per annum by 2030 if demand for iron ore exports continues on its current trajectory.
The Department of Transport has released a comprehensive strategic plan for WA’s regional freight network, outlining roads, rail and ports priorities through to 2031.
The plan was guided by a steering committee comprising executives of government departments led by the Department for Regional Development and Lands and has been approved by cabinet.
The plan was developed through extensive engagement of industry stakeholders, with rail and ports projects to continue to be funded mostly by the private sector.
Major port projects under consideration include dedicated logistics hubs at Dampier and Port Hedland, each to be undertaken by private developers subject to final investment decisions.
The state government will also sound out the market to identify interest in port expansions at Esperance and Bunbury and seek to develop a marine supply base precinct to the Port of Broome, with the aim of positioning the port as a service hub for the Browse Basin.
The state’s regional road freight is set to double to 40 billion tonne kilometres per annum by 2030, while rail freight will increase by 126 per cent to more than 130 million net tonnes per annum.
While the Pilbara will be subject to heavy freight demand, there will be less demand in regions such as the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions. The replacement of ageing facilities will be a priority in these areas.
Department of Transport deputy director general Sue McCarrey said the developments would be driven by the market and the relative strength of commodity prices would determine whether projects were delivered earlier or later than planned.
The federal government is likely to play a key role in delivering freight infrastructure through its Nation Building program, she said.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell, who will officially launch the plan at the WA Ports Conference later today, said there was an “inextricable link” between the strong performance of regional WA and the nation’s prosperity.
“By providing clear strategic direction for the development of the transport network over the next two decades, this plan provides an enduring foundation to inform and build investor and industry confidence and a framework for developing the state’s freight network well into the future,” Mr Buswell said.
A similar strategic plan for freight activity within the metropolitan area will be forthcoming.