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Image: Port Augusta Operations.

The South Australian Government has given Port Augusta Operations the go-ahead to build a port facility in the Upper Spencer Gulf that will service mining operations.

The approval will see the former Port Augusta power station transformed into a modern port, to be named Port Playford.

This will create a shipping hub for projects in key South Australian iron ore regions, including North Gawler, Curnamona and Braemar.

Once completed, Port Augusta Operations will load commodities onto shallow-draft self-unloading vessels at the port wharf via existing rail links onto Cape-sized, ocean-going bulk carriers.

These bulk carriers will be moored at the existing offshore trans-shipment points near Whyalla.

Port Augusta Operations managing director Shaun Shan said the project would provide an economic boost for the region.

“Stage one of this project has already received more demand enquiries than its proposed capacity, which is fantastic news for our company and South Australia,” Shan said.

“The development strongly aligns with key state, regional and local development directions and will unlock significant economic benefit within Port Augusta and across regional South Australia.

“The economic benefits of this development are already materialising with the signing of legally binding commitments with key customers.”

Port Augusta Operations intends to invest more than $100 million over the next 18 months, according to South Australian Minister for Planning Vickie Chapman.

Chapman said this would unlock $160 million of existing assets, which are currently wasting away at the disused site and serve a range of commodities and even minerals processing activities.

“There is a scope for this tie to accommodate a range of commodities and activities, including mineral processing,” she said.

“It’s estimated this development will create more than 100 jobs during construction and 80 permanent positions for ongoing port operations.

“This development will bolster the local economy and create a pipeline of growth opportunity for Port Augusta.

Construction of Port Playford will start in the middle of 2021, with first shipment from the port anticipated by late 2022.