11/06/2013 - 12:45

Shortlist for Esperance Port expansion

11/06/2013 - 12:45

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Two private consortia have been short-listed to tender for the design, finance, construction and operation of a new multi-user iron ore facility (MUIOF) at Esperance Port.

The port authority announced today that the two candidates were a joint venture between Brookfield Infrastructure Australia and Qube Bulk, and the Yilgarn Esperance Solution (YES) consortium, made up of McConnell Dowell Constructors, Asciano and Marubeni Corporation.

Qube Bulk is a subsidiary of Qube Holdings Limited (ASX: QUB) that provides import and export logistics services, while Brookfield Infrastructure Australia are part of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, a global asset operator and manager listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The YES consortium brings together McConnell Dowell Constructors, an engineering, construction, and maintenance contractor, and Asciano , a rail freight and port operator (ASX: AIO) and Marubeni Corporation, a global product handler and service provider based in Japan which is involved in a broad range of sectors including metals and mineral resources and transportation machinery.

The two consortia were narrowed down from five and were both found by an evaluation panel to have addressed the project objectives and demonstrated they met the evaluation criteria required to proceed.

The criteria included experience in bulk port operations, a clear understanding of the MUIOF project, the financial capability and capacity, and design and construction experience in similar types of projects.

The MUIOF is estimated to cost $200 million and could see the shipment of up to 12 million tonnes of iron ore annually if developed, catering for proposed miners wishing to develop and export their tenements in the Yilgarn region.

Esperance Ports Sea and Land CEO Shayne Flanagan said a key feature of the MUIOF was that it will be designed and developed by the private sector.

“The scope and capital costs of the project will be identified by the private sector, based on its view of the level of commercially sustainable demand for iron ore export capacity through the port,” Mr Flanagan said.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell has previously highlighted the role private sector needs to play in developing a MUIOF in Esperance, saying that the government and port authorities have a role to play as facilitators, but ultimately the investors need to make the decision.

Members of the Yilgarn Iron Producers Association (YIPA) have sought to promote the development of infrastructure throughout the Yilgarn iron province and rail and export ports. 

Mindax Limited, one of ten members of YIPA, today announced that its joint venture partner Perpetual Mining Holding Limited (PMHL) had formally issued its approval to proceed with the proposed Mt Forrest Iron Project, with a view to mining at the end of 2014.

Mindax said PMHL would spend about $52 million to fast-track the development of the project and the joint venture was coordinating its iron ore mining to coincide with the Esperance Port upgrade.

Other members of the Yilgarn Iron Producers Association include Cliffs Natural Resources which is mining and exporting through Esperance, Mineral Resources Limited, which is mining and exporting through Kwinana, as well as Legacy Iron Ore and Golden West Resources.

Qube Bulk said it was looking forward to tendering for the MUIOF with partner Brookfield.

"We are delighted to have made the shortlist and will be working hard with our consortium partner Brookfield to put in a competitive tender. However obviously there's still a long way to go in this process,” a Qube spokesperson said.

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