Port Hedland expansion sets up WA job opportunities

The port of Port Hedland in Western Australia has contributed a whopping $64.1 billion to the Australian economy in 2018–2019, but this is set to increase even further over the next decade.

In a report backed by figures from BHP, Fortescue Metals Group, Roy Hill, Rio Tinto, Sandfire Resources, Pilbara Minerals and Mineral Resources, the port’s activities are estimated to pump an extra $26.2 billion to the economy by 2028–2029.

The increased production could deliver an extra $21 billion in taxes and royalties and create an average of more than 5300 additional full-time jobs over the next 10 years.

Most of the potential impact on jobs occurs in Western Australia.

Port Hedland is the largest global shipping hub for iron ore, with the steel-making commodity making up 99.1 per cent of the port’s exports in 2018-19.

Iron ore production is expected to increase from 525 million tonnes in 2019–2020 to its peak at 547.5 million tonnes in 2022–2023.

This is forecast to ease to an average of 545.2 million tonnes over the remainder of the period.

Lithium and spodumene concentrate production is also anticipated to accelerate from 180,000 dry metric tonnes in 2019–2020 to 370,000 dry metric tonnes in 2020–2021.

This would climb to 1.5 dry metric tonnes in 2021–2022 before averaging at 1.6 dry metric tonnes in subsequent years to 2028–2029.

Lithium made up 0.2 per cent of exports from the Port in 2018-19.

The report is prepared by ACIL Allen Consulting and commissioned by Port Hedland Industries Council (PHIC).

PHIC chief executive Kirsty Danby said the figures revealed in the report were a powerful reminder of the economic muscle of the Pilbara, the Port of Port Hedland, and the town.

“That the port supply chain is responsible for one in every 12 jobs in Western Australia is extraordinary and a reflection of the importance of the port to the economic futures of the town, the state and the nation,” she said.

BHP in April announced its plan to increase its iron ore exports from Port Hedland to a capacity in excess of 290 million tonnes a year.

Port Hedland is BHP’s export base from many of its largest projects in the Pilbara region, including the Newman, Mining Area C, Yandi and Jimblebar sites.

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