Merger of former Albany, Bunbury, Esperance ports under review

The former Albany, Bunbury and Esperance port authorities were merged to form the Southern Ports Authority in October 2014 as part of the first tranche of port governance reforms.
Nearly three years after the amalgamation, a review will now consider the performance of the relevant ports before and after amalgamation to ascertain whether the expected benefits have been achieved, whether original concerns about the merger have been justified and if further changes are required for the future operation of the ports.
A working group will provide a report with findings and recommendations to the Minister for Transport by December 2017. The group is chaired by Agricultural Region MLC Laurie Graham and will include representatives from the Department of Transport and the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
“Now that nearly three years have passed, it is time to conduct a post-implementation review to evaluate what benefits have been achieved as a result of the amalgamation,” said Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
“The purpose of the review is to evaluate the outcomes of amalgamating the Albany, Bunbury and Esperance port authorities to form Southern Ports.
“It’s clear to me from my travels in the South-West, Great Southern and Goldfields-Esperance regions in the past couple of years that people hold a range of views about the success or otherwise of the amalgamation, and whether it has been good for the regions.
“The working group will go into the process with an open mind and will present their findings to Government towards the end of the year.”

Will uranium be shipped through Esperance?

With the uranium industry gaining momentum in WA, Canadian miner Cameco has suggested Esperance as an export hub for products.

Cameco’s Yeeleerie project, billed as the largest in WA, is located near Wiluna some distance from Port Adelaide and Darwin, the only two ports in Australia approved for shipping uranium.

While the Yeeleerie project has been slowed to wait for commodity price recovery in the post-Fukushima uranium market, Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said all options for shipping would be considered.

“This is a region that needs the next wave of projects and the uranium sector can deliver four, five, six projects down the track and make a significant difference to WA," Reilly said.

"The product we ship is a high-value, low-volume product and as it sits today most uranium goes to the port of Adelaide.

"Why wouldn't we contemplate a WA port when we get a business case and a number of other projects up and running?"

So far two uranium mines have been approved in WA since the 2008 lifting of the ban on uranium mining: Cameco’s Kintyre Project in the Pilbara, and Toro Energy’s Wiluna Project.

Toro Energy has already outlined plans to ship product through Port Adelaide, a 2700km journey by truck.

The issue of transporting radioactive rare earths materials came up in 2012 when Lynas Corporation rare earth shipping activities through the Port of Esperance were strenuously opposed by Greens member for Fremantle Adele Carles.

The Kalgoorlie Miner reported that Reilly was optimistic about the Asian market’s potential to drive up the price of uranium, with 23 reactors under construction in China and six on the way in India.

China already has 26 operating reactors, and India has 21 in service.

Ground too wet to recover derailed wagons

Two months after an iron ore train derailed in WA, Aurizon say the ground is still too wet to recover the wagons.

Around thirty wagons derailed on May 20 while the train was on the move from Kalgoorlie to Esperance, the ABC reported.

No one was injured as a result of the accident.

Aurizon said it was waiting for the ground in the area to dry before it could remove the wagons.

Brookfield Rail said a crane will be needed to lift the wagons.

The rail company said investigation into what caused the derailment are continuing.

Iron ore port expansion seeks company proposals

Esperance Port have shortlisted two corporations to provide proposals on the development of a new multi-user iron ore export facility.

Qube Bulk in partnership with Brookfield Infrastructure and the Yilgarn Esperance Solution consortium have both been asked to provide details on the development of the project.

Port chairman Bob McKinnon said both corporations had best addressed project objectives and demonstrated they met stringent evaluation criteria, The West Australian reported.

The criteria included experience in bulk port operations, an understanding of the project, the financial capability and capacity, and design and construction experience.

"The short-listed consortia have significant experience in infrastructure investment as well as designing, financing and operating major projects related to the movement and handling of large volumes of bulk products," McKinnon said.

Earlier this year the West Australian Government gave the go ahead for the new iron ore facility.

The development of a multi-user iron ore export facility at Esperance will underpin the development options for transport of ore from mine to ship.

The port is linked by rail through Kalgoorlie to Leonora. Trucking operations would then use a relatively short section of the unsealed Ulalla Road linking the mine to the fully sealed Goldfields Highway from Wiluna to Leonora.

Fledgling miners in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia have been given a boost by the decision as it will help open up the Yilgarn to further development, with the region currently struggling from a lack of major infrastructure.

The Yilgarn, located between Perth and Kalgoorlie, contains a number of gold deposits, as well as significant reserves of iron ore.

Yilgarn Iron Producers Association CEO David Utting said the Government's decision was a win for miners in the reigon, and would help create “thousands” of new jobs in the sector.

The industry group estimates an extra 10 million tonnes of iron ore production in the Yilgarn would create 1000 direct and 3227 indirect jobs, with royalty contributions also getting a boost.

A market sounding exercise carried out by EPSL found that iron ore production in the region could grow significantly in the next 10-15 years.

A completion date of early 2015 was outlined for the expansion, and studies have suggested an increase of 10-12 million tonnes a year would be viable.

Currently the port has a capacity of 11.5 million tonnes.

Image: perthnow.com.au

Iron ore exports expand in Esperance

The Port of Esperance is set to receive a new multi-user iron ore export facility adding 10 to 12 million tonnes of capacity per year.

The West Australian Government has given the go-ahead for the development of a new iron ore facility.

The expansion of the port is good news for Gold West Resources (GWR) who is looking to expand the development of iron ore projects in the region.

“The Planned scale of the Port’s expansion and the time-frame to deliver a multi-user iron ore facility by early 2015 gives us the confidence to now accelerate the development of the Wiluna West Iron project,” GWR executive general manager Craig Ferrier said.

GWR announced last year that it had entered into a capacity reservation deed with The Esperance Port Authority (EPSL) for the reservation of 3 million tonnes per annum capacity as part of new facilities to be constructed.

The development of a multi-user iron ore export facility at Esperance will underpin the development options for transport of ore from mine to ship.

The port is linked by rail through Kalgoorlie to Leonora. Trucking operations would then use a relatively short section of the unsealed Ulalla Road linking the mine to the fully sealed Goldfields Highway from Wiluna to Leonora.

EPSL have invited the private sector to participate in a registration of interest after it found it would be commercially viable to develop a facility for an additional 10 to 12 million tonnes a year.

A market sounding exercise carried out by EPSL found that iron ore production in the region could grow significantly in the next 10-15 years.

Construction of the new facility is expected to begin in early 2014.

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