The State Government says it has started the formal process of acquiring land for the Anketell Port project in the Pilbara despite the depressed iron ore market.
Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett and Lands Minister Terry Redman said the land acquisition was vital to the development of the port about 30 kilometres east of Karratha, which they said was potentially the last major port to be built in the Pilbara.
“Last year, the Government signed a $20 million native title agreement with the Ngarluma people over 4300 hectares of land covering the planned Anketell site,” Mr Barnett said.
“Now, the State Government is ready to proceed with the next step of the agreement by acquiring this land, providing further certainty to port proponents and interested parties.”
It is envisaged the port will provide an export facility for the West Pilbara iron ore project, a joint venture between China’s Boasteel, rail operator Aurizon, South Korea’s POSCO and AMCI.
Baosteel plans to make a final investment decision on development of a 40 million tonne operation by late next year.
However the project is unlikely to get the nod unless there is a sustained improvement in the price of iron ore by then.
If approved West Pilbara could be delivering iron ore into markets by late 2018, when BHP and Rio could also have hit peak export rates of 290mtpa and 360mtpa respectively.
Mr Barnett admitted conditions were very challenging in the iron ore market at the moment, but he said Aurizon and its partners remained committed to progressing the initial planning and study phases for the project.
Mr Redman said the Anketell Port was intended to unlock the potential of the West Pilbara by providing port space for new and emerging mining companies.
“The development of the Anketell Port will significantly strengthen WA’s position in global energy and resource markets by providing world-class project ready infrastructure and serviced land with capacity to meet demand from various markets,” he said.
“Acquiring the land for Anketell Port is a significant step for the Government’s plans to provide valuable port space for small and mid-sized mining companies.”
The State Government is currently working with Aurizon and its partners on a State Agreement for the rail component of the project.