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The State Government has approved the start of a procurement process for a private sector consortium to develop a new iron ore facility in Esperance to export up to 12 million tonnes per year.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell made the announcement yesterday after accepting a recommendation from the Esperance Ports Sea and Land board to identify private sector interest to design, finance, construct and operate the multi-user iron ore facility. Mr Buswell said potential proponents had until March 5 to apply for pre-qualification to participate in a request for proposal process.

“Following this initial step, potential proponents will be shortlisted and invited to participate in a RFP process,” he said.

It is expected the preferred proponent will be identified later this year.

“All project funding and associated costs will be the responsibility of the private sector proponent ultimately selected through the RFP process, ” he said. Mr Buswell said the size of the new facility would be determined by the proponent building the new infrastructure after entering into contracts with miners. He said a recent market sounding conducted for EPSL indicated that it may be commercially viable to initially develop a facility for an additional 10 to 12 million tonnes per year to facilitate growth of the Yilgarn iron ore sector.

“Investors interviewed during the market sounding considered the Yilgarn region to have reasonable prospects of generating additional financially viable iron ore projects which are required to support investment in the new MUIOF,” he said.