Plans for major port in the Pilbara unveiled

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Port Hedland Image credit: flickr User: Mark Maupin

The Western Australian Government has released a master plan for building a major, multi-commodity and multi-user deepwater port in the Pilbara, with a potential to exceed the export capacity of current number one port in the country — Port Hedland.

Port Hedland Image credit: flickr User:  Mark Maupin
Port Hedland
Image credit: flickr User:
Mark Maupin

According to the article on ABC, the State’s Government project envisages Anketell Port to be built on greenfields land in the proximity of Karratha, with eventual export capacity of more than 350 million tonnes per annum — more than double the capacity of  neighbouring Dampier Port and 20% larger than shipments at Port Hedland.

Although currently unfunded, the State Government has been actively working on attracting possible investors for the port, which would stretch across 4300 hectares of land and eventually include eight berths.

“Development of Anketell Port will help unlock the potential of the West Pilbara by aiding further development of the state’s natural resources,” WA Premier Colin Barnett said.

Dampier Port Authority Chief Executive Steve Lewis said the number of berths will increase gradually as demand for ore increases.

“We now have a master plan that actually shows where the berths are, how the approaches will be done and where the channel will be,” he said.

“The first company building there will build at least two berths and that will grow over time as demand for iron ore increases and eventually it will be built to eight berths. Iron ore is such a rich resource up there that will continue to have decades of demand from the world.”

Mr Lewis said the future of the project would not be affected by iron ore prices, currently at a two year low at below US$90 a tonne.

“This is an ultimate design plan, so it doesn’t need to be reviewed depending on the iron ore price. It’s really the speed in which it’s built that will be impacted by iron ore prices and demand,” he said.

“Along with the privately owned ports, I’m sure we’ll very quickly see more than a billion tonnes of iron ore going out of the Pilbara over the next few years, so a very major source of iron ore on a world scale.”

A native title agreement over the land was signed with the Ngarluma people in March, with an Aboriginal heritage survey currently underway.