Kerry Stokes' Iron Ore Holdings has thrown a new port option into the Pilbara mix, lodging environmental applications for a 20 million tonne-a-year multi-user facility at Cape Preston next to one being built by Chinese miner CITIC Pacific.
The new berths would sit next door to the Sino Iron facility, part of CITIC's project but owned by Clive Palmer, and use a similar 1.5km-long jetty to barge iron ore to bulk ore carriers waiting further off the coast. With an initial export capacity of 10mtpa, IOH said its port could eventually double in size to allow other iron ore hopefuls in the region access to export markets.
An IOH spokesman said the Cape Preston port was one of several export options it was considering, and the plans were at a relatively early stage. The port would initially service IOH's Bungaroo South project, south of Cape Preston, where it was planning an 8mtpa mine. The company received a mining licence covering the project earlier this month, with a prefeasibility study due to be completed in the next six weeks.
In its environmental application IOH said it would link Bungaroo South with the proposed Cape Preston port via a 185km haul road.
The major sticking point for the port would be access to the land, currently owned by Mr Palmer's Mineralogy.
Land access issues had previously stymied an attempt by Tony Poli's Aquila Resources to build at Cape Preston, with Aquila instead opting for a greenfield port development at Anketell. But IOH said the land it wanted to use was due to be surrendered to the State Government, under the terms of Mineralogy's State Agreement, and should be available for use.
If the Cape Preston East development goes ahead it could also be an export route for iron ore from IOH's Mardie tenements, acquired from Azimuth Resources late last year, or from its Maitland River magnetite project. It could also offer an alternative export option for other miners with stranded deposits, such as Flinders Mines.
IOH closed at 76.5¢ yesterday, down 3.5¢.