Albany Port Authority may soon be shipping iron ore if Perth-based miner Cazaly Resources decides to begin exporting from its anticipated Yilgarn mine project.
If the venture happens, Albany Port will no longer be the only bulk product port in WA without substantial mining trade.
Cazaly is undertaking a feasibility study with the Albany Port Authority, rail operator Brookfield and an engineering firm to establish whether it would be viable to export ore extracted from its Parker Range site 400km east of Perth, out of Albany.
Port authority chief executive Brad Williamson said Albany needed business from the resources sector to get better utilisation of the port’s assets.
“We’re the only bulk product port in the State that doesn’t have a mining contract and that makes it very hard for the tugs and the stevedores and other service providers, so the port really needs some more trade,” he said.
“The woodchips have tapered off and our main trade, grain, is really dependent on rainfall.”
Woodchip export from Albany has fallen 20 per cent since its peak of 1.6 million tonnes in 2008-09.
Mr Williamson said the port could handle up to 2 million tonnes of iron ore a year using 50,000 tonne partly-loaded Panamax ships, before having to consider expanding berthing facilities.
Cazaly joint managing director Nathan McMahon was unavailable for comment, but Yilgarn Iron Producers Association chief executive David Utting said Cazaly was considering Albany as a serious export option.
He also said upgrades to Esperance Port announced last week had left a “swag of miners” in Yilgarn anxious.
“It comes down to the brute force of transportation costs versus the timing of the Esperance Port upgrade,” he said.
“Cazaly is ready to roll, they’re tired of the delays at Kwinana, they’ve done the exploration, done the drilling, got their permits and they are red hot to dig.”
Mr Utting said with Geraldton and Kwinana operating at full capacity, Albany appeared to be Cazaly’s best option before the Esperance upgrade was complete.
“It’s not just Cazaly, there are other YIPA members who’ve got various deposits with Albany in their sights,” he said.
Mr Utting said half of YIPA’s 10 members had shown interest in exporting through Albany Port in the last 12 months.