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Port Hedland
Port Hedland.

Major mining companies have welcomed the Western Australian Government’s decision to endorse the amended Port Hedland development plan completed by the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA).

The development plan will enable the growth of iron ore exports to 660 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), allowing port proponents to invest in landside infrastructure upgrades and advance their investment and growth strategies.

This includes capacity allocated for the potential development of a new iron ore export facility at Stanley Point berth 3 (SP3) which, subject to obtaining necessary approvals from PPA, would be allocated to Hancock Prospecting and Mineral Resources (MRL).

It will also include increased capacity allocations of approximately 25 per cent for existing port proponents BHP, Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) and Roy Hill.

The plan also facilitates a future bulk liquids berth in South West Creek and the development of a second general cargo berth at Lumsden Point.

Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison said the announcement is a key milestone in his company’s strategy to unlock stranded deposits in the Pilbara by developing pit-to-port solutions and expanding its capability to be a long-term, low-cost sustainable supplier of iron ore to international markets.

“If the project proceeds and SP3 is developed, MRL is aiming to ship at least 20 million tonnes of iron ore per annum,” he said.

“We acknowledge the extensive consultation and review work completed by the Minister for Ports, Rita Saffioti and the team at Pilbara Ports Authority to ensure the Port Development Plan maximises exports and advances industry growth, which will lead to thousands of jobs for Western Australians for years to come.”

Hancock Prospecting Group executive chairman Gina Rinehart said she looks forward to continuing to work alongside MRL, the State Government and PPA to advance the project as soon as possible.

“We are uniquely placed to fast track the delivery of this critical port infrastructure by leveraging off and integrating with existing facilities and tenure,” she said.

“This will unlock a suite of growth assets, some of which would have otherwise remained stranded assets, to bring more jobs, revenue and opportunities to West Australians.

“We are delighted that the WA Government and Minister for Ports Rita Saffioti have provided their support to this important development, and would like to warmly congratulate all involved.”

The plan is expected to result in increased capacity at the common user berths within the Port, supporting growth in direct shipping to the Pilbara and increased exports by junior miners.

Ports Minister Rita Saffioti said the plan was last reviewed in 2012, when the port set a total throughput of 495Mtpa.

“We have well and truly exceeded this, with the port achieving a total annual throughput of 546Mt last financial year – of which 523 million tonnes were iron ore exports by port proponents,” she said.

“This in part was made possible by investing in world-leading maritime technologies to maximise port efficiency and safety, which has seen a 6.9 per cent increase in potential shipping capacity at Port Hedland.”