Albany could still become an iron ore port, despite the shelving of Grange Resources’ Southdown project.
Port Authority chief executive Brad Williamson has been in discussions with two minor ore players about shipping through Albany and said there was the potential for the city to become a miners’ port.
Mr Williamson said delays to the expansion of Esperance port and the stalling of the Oakajee port and rail project north of Geraldton meant several smaller players, especially from the Yilgarn iron ore province, were “desperate” to get started and were looking at Albany.
“Albany could one day be a mining port – not anywhere near the Pilbara or the Mid West – but still predominantly a mining port,” he said.
Mr Williamson said Albany port was unique because it was the only port in WA with spare waterfront land and underutilised berths.
He said with iron ore, digging it up was the easy part, but getting it on a ship, at a good price, was difficult.
“There is no shortage of iron ore in the world but there is a great shortage of ports and rail to them,” he said. “It’s a great competitive advantage for Albany.”
Mr Williamson confirmed he met with explorer Magnetic Resources’ managing director George Sakalidis this week and has previously been in talks with prospector Cazaly Resources about shipping relatively small tonnages through the Albany port.
Unlike the $3 billion Grange Southdown project plan, this would not require port-dredging.
“That involves looking at the rail task and what upgrades are needed at the port,” Mr Williamson said.
“Certainly it’s possible and so we’re starting those studies now to see how we do it.”
Mr Sakalidis said there was potentially a great opportunity to work with Albany, pending the results of a drilling program at several locations between Dalwallinu and Corrigin, and the associated feasibility studies.
While Grange Resources’s ambitious $3 billion Southdown project would have required the dredging of the port, the tonnages Cazaly and Magnetic would ship would be relatively small and dredging is not being considered.