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Esperance port expansion seen as big win for Yilgarn iron-ore growth

Sunday, 22 January 2012 | 00:00
The Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) on Friday welcomed the state government’s commitment to expand the capacity of the Esperance port.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell said this week the decision to expand the port’s capacity from the 11-million tons to a potential 20-million tons a year was influenced by a recently completed study into the Yilgarn province’s burgeoning iron-ore industry, and the fact that A$120-million was being spent to upgrade the port’s road and rail access.
“The Yilgarn province is a rapidly developing iron-ore region and, based on current iron-ore prices, has the potential to earn the state up to A$150-million a year in royalties, which can be invested into schools, hospitals, roads, police and other essential services for the community,” Buswell said.
He noted that currently, around 12-million tons of iron-ore was produced in the Yilgarn province, with the district potentially able to produce 15-billion tons of magnetite and one-billion ton of high-grade heamatite ore.
The CME said the state commitment to expanding Esperance would see the port develop into a vital strategic export route for Western Australian resources.
“Investment in port capacity and operations is essential if we are to reach the development potential of the region,” CME CE Reg Howard-Smith said.
“Many existing operations have expansion plans and the emerging iron-ore sector in the Yilgarn area will require port capacity in the future. Current port capacity is already at breaking point, which has put pressure on local exporters to find capacity at other Western Australian ports, including Kwinana.”
Howard-Smith noted that the industry’s strong preference was for Esperance port to be a bulk export facility, adding that it was important to ensure that that there was a fair and open process for potential resource exporters to access increased port capacity.
“Road and rail linkages into the port and the port terminal infrastructure must also be able to handle the tonnages and products anticipated by Esperance port.”
He added that the industry would be keen to see further detail of the plan if wider and ongoing issues at the port are to be considered.
“Operational issues at the port need to be addressed to enable existing port users to efficiently export their product,” he said.
Source: Mining Weekly
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