Government indecision killing South Australian industry

Western Plains Resources is lobbying the South Australian Government to make a final decision on building Port Bonython in the State's Spencer Gulf.

Western Plains Resources is lobbying the South Australian Government to make a final decision on building Port Bonython in the State’s Spencer Gulf, saying the process has dragged on far too long.

The company is preparing to bring its Peculiar Knob iron ore project online and has been frustrated by the indecision.

Western Plains chief operating officer Martin Jacobsen told MINING DAILY that there appears to be an issue with the Government’s internal decision making process.

“Its now six months since Flinders Ports submitted the financial feasibility study and the Government is yet to make a final decision on when the port will be built,” he said.

“It is a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario.

“The Ports want guaranteed customers, but we are unable to do that without a port.

“We have resources that we want to mine and are in advanced discussions with potential customers, but they will not commit until they know there is a port.”

The company may be forced to ship iron ore from Port Adelaide, which, according to Jacobsen, is not a satisfactory long term outcome.

“Port Adelaide is an additional 150 km from the project, so that will add substantial costs,” he said.

“The outer harbour can only berth Panamax-sized vessels and does not have any commodities export facilities.

“We have developed an export method from Port Adelaide, but it is not a practical long-term solution.

“The best way to get your material out is with larger Cape-sized ships.”

Port Adelaide can only load 70,000 tonne vessels, while Port Bonython would be able to load cape size vessels of around 170,000 tonnes.

“We are lobbying the South Australian Government to make a decision, but there is we can not do much more than that,” Jacobsen said.

“The Government owns all of the land around Port Bonython, which is one of the hurdles we face.

“The whole thing is pretty non-committal at the moment, hence our level of frustration.

According to Jacobsen, the company will wait for a start date for Port Bonython before it makes a decision about shipping from Port Adelaide in the interim.

“It is obviously not responsible for us to mine a finite resource while we are incurring higher costs than we would if the port was developed,” he said.

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