Esperance Port chief executive Shayne Flanagan has quit his post as the State Government dithers over naming the consortium which has won the right to develop and operate a new multi-user iron ore facility.
His resignation comes amid fallout from the Government's decision to manage Esperance Port from Bunbury - about 600km away - under its regional port authority amalgamation.
It is understood the Government has had to scramble to retain senior staff at a number of ports after concerns about the impact a mass exodus would have on operations.
The amalgamation was the brainchild of former transport minister Troy Buswell, who said it would improve efficiency and cut red tape.
Seven of WA's eight port authorities will be consolidated into four regional authorities, with Fremantle remaining a stand-alone authority.
Mr Flanagan's departure is likely to create more confusion around operations and the planned expansion at Esperance.
Two consortia are sweating on a decision on the right to build and operate the new iron ore berth at Esperance, with Yilgarn miners pushing for a 10 million tonne-a-year expansion expected to cost about $200 million.
Qube and Brookfield are competing against the Yilgarn Esperance Solution consortium comprising McConnell Dowell, Asciano and Marubeni.
The Government had been expected to make a decision last month following an Esperance Ports Sea & Land recommendation on the preferred proponent.
It is believed Mr Flanagan has told the Government he will not seek to renew his contract when it expires at the end of the June.
He was appointed chief in late 2011, promoted from his role as the port's commercial manager after Michal Frydrych resigned amid a furore over the decision to strike non-binding agreements with a number of smaller Yilgarn miners to underpin the planned expansion. Mr Flanagan was handed the task of getting the planning process back on track and asked to soothe relationships with major stakeholders.
Transport Minister Dean Nalder was unable to answer questions on the issue yesterday.