Junior Mid West and Yilgarn iron ore explorer Radar Iron has plans to export through Esperance Port because it sees the Oakajee Port project as too expensive and difficult.
In a region notorious for not having sufficient railway and port solutions for its miners to get their product to market, Radar is looking at jumping on the closer and existing government- owned, common user rail to Esperance.
WA Minister for Transport Troy Buswell earlier this year backed plans for a port expansion at Esperance in the absence of any movement on Oakajee.
The Government recently appointed an engineer to look at an expansion ahead of a proposed tender process to find an infrastructure provider in January.
Speaking on day two of the Mining Mid West conference this week Radar Resources managing director Jon Lea said exporting through Esperance was a better option, with Oakajee a secondary, higher cost solution.
“My reading of it, whether right or not, is Mr Barnett put a lot of store and capital in to building Oakajee and it didn’t happen so they decided … what else can we do at Esperance as the next likely port?,” he said.
“Going to Oakajee, you never say never, if it’s the only solution and it costs you an extra $5 per tonne to get it there in some form (then) it’s probably small in the overall scheme of things.
“My sense is that Oakajee probably wont get built until next decade … and if that’s the case then I guess you put your focus on the Esperance thing initially and then as Oakajee develops over the next few years then maybe look at that option as well.”
Mr Lea said he was confident that Esperance would be the solution, but the Government was taking its time and acting carefully on the proposal, after the failings at Oakajee.
Radar is also currently focussed on expanding its hematite resource, which will drive its business from day one.