30/10/2007 - 11:32

Proposal to triple Port Hedland capacity

30/10/2007 - 11:32

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The State Government is evaluating the establishment of a new outer harbour at Port Hedland to accomodate the Pilbara's surging export volumes, marking a major shift from its plan to develop a new iron ore port at Ronsard Island.

The State Government is evaluating the establishment of a new outer harbour at Port Hedland to accomodate the Pilbara's surging export volumes, marking a major shift from its plan to develop a new iron ore port at Ronsard Island.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the govermment has allocated $1.3 million to assess the feasibility and capacity of a new multi-user outer harbour off Finucane Island.

The proposed outer harbour, which would involve the construction of jetties off the northern shore of Finucane Island and a separate channel, could have a capacity of up to 400 million tonnes per year.

Port Hedland was Australia's second highest volume port last year with throughput of 112 million tonnes, and by 2010 throughput was expected to exceed 200 million tonnes.

To support this growth, the government has recently committed to a $225 million expansion of common user facilities at the existing Port Hedland harbour, which will be jointly funded by users of the port, including BHP Billiton, Consolidated Minerals and Atlas Iron.

Ms MacTiernan said the successful development of the outer harbour would defer the need for a new port at Ronsard Island for another 10 years.

She announced in January that Ronsard Island was the preferred site for the Pilbara's next major iron ore port, following a study by engineering group WorleyParsons.

"With iron ore exports potentially growing from 235 million tonnes a year, to as much as 595 mt over the next 10 years, we could need a major new iron ore port as early as in six years' time if the high growth scenarios are realised," Ms MacTiernan said in January.


The proposed facility at Ronsard Island, 80 km west of Port Hedland, was planned to have a capacity of 300 million tonnes per year.

 

The full text of an announcement from Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan is pasted below

The State Government has allocated $1.258 million to assess the feasibility and capacity of a new multi-user Outer Harbour at Port Hedland to move the project forward.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said today the work would involve the preparation of a layout plan for a multi-user port facility as an Outer Harbour off Finucane Island.

It would also involve an analysis of key aspects of the plan to identify and correct, as far as possible, any 'fatal flaws'.

"This Outer Harbour concept, which involves the construction of jetties off the northern shore of Finucane Island and a separate channel, is very attractive to a number of present exporters," the Minister said.

"The proposed Outer Harbour could have a capacity to export up to 400 million tonnes per annum of iron ore, which would more than treble existing Port Hedland capacity."

Ms MacTiernan said that the successful development of the Outer Harbour would defer the need for a new port at Ronsard Island, as this would now probably not be required for another 10 years.

"Concentrating the development at Port Hedland increases the long-term prospects for the town," she said.

"We want to ensure there are still plenty of jobs when the current construction phase is over.

"If the feasibility study proves up, construction could start within three years, subject to environmental approvals.

"The Department for Planning and Infrastructure and The Port Hedland Port Authority will manage the study and work collaboratively with the proponents requiring future export capacity."

Ms MacTiernan said this announcement followed hard on the heels of the State Government's commitment to a $225 million expansion of common user facilities at the existing Port Hedland harbour.

"We recognise the need to maximise the export opportunities and we are working hard to bring on these exciting projects," she said.

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