Miner backs Spoilbank plan

Ben Leahy

Fortescue Metals Group has broken ranks with fellow mining heavyweight BHP Billiton to throw its support behind the Spoilbank marina, but has stopped short of backing increased residential development in the West End.

The miner said activating Port Hedland's coastline with public spaces, water play areas and dining and barbecue facilities would enhance the town's social and leisure opportunities.

Co-ordinating general manager port and rail Gerhard Veldsman said extensive community consultation had gone into making the decision to build Hedland's marina and waterfront development at the Spoilbank.

"Fortescue … stands firm on the Port Hedland community's right to decide on future development," he said.

"As we continue to expand the recreational facilities on offer, we entice families to live and settle in Port Hedland and this is beneficial for the whole community."

Fortescue's support for the project joins that of the State Government, which recently made a $72 million Budget commitment to the marina's construction costs.

BHP and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, on the other hand, have reiterated their opposition to the development.

Mr Veldsman did not go as far as backing calls for new hotel or apartment developments at the Spoilbank or in Port Hedland's West End.

"Fortescue believes that investment in social, recreational and leisure facilities at the Spoilbank waterfront site provides the most benefit for the Port Hedland community," he said.

"In the current market, the need for intensive or increased residential development in Port Hedland's West End is not apparent."

Mr Veldsman also played a straight bat when asked whether Fortescue would contribute community investment funding to the Spoilbank development.

"The company considers all suitable applications for funding that enhance recreational and leisure amenities and opportunities for the Port Hedland community," he said.

"Fortescue has provided significant investment to social and recreational projects, programs and community groups in Port Hedland."

"(This includes the) major sponsorship of the South Hedland Swans Football Club and funding towards Wanangkura Stadium and South Hedland Youth Space."