Miners search for Port Bonython alternatives

Western Plains Resources has asked Port Bonython's preferred tenderer permission to pay port user charges.

Western Plains Resources has asked Port Bonython’s preferred tender, Flinders Ports Consortium, permission to pay port user charges so that its iron ore can be exported through the port.

The South Australian Port was left wanting in the recent State Budget after the Government allocated no funds to the project.

Western Plains Resources executive chairman Bob Duffin told MINING DAILY that the miner hoped to be exporting its material through the Port by 2012 on a take or pay basis.

“What we are trying to do is develop a circuit breaker,” Duffin said.

“The port developers are saying that they cannot commit to the capital costs of constructing this port until the users are prepared to enter into take or pay contracts. Yet on the other hand, the users are saying that they cannot enter into take or pay contracts until the port is up and running because they cannot get the finance for their projects.”

Acting chief executive Anne Walker told MINING DAILY the port presented a catch 22 problem for the State Government.

“Until you have a steady stream of projects and can guarantee a certain level of throughput for the Port, you cannot justify the expense of building it,” she said.

“It is a bit of the chicken and the egg situation. The industry needs to work with the Government to find out the most effective way of addressing the Port Bonython issue.

“Although the mining industry has been very encouraged by the way the State Government has been working towards the development of a bulk commodities port, it is disappointing to not see a tangible commitment in the budget.

“In the current economic climate, one way to really stimulate the economy is to accelerate progress on a deep sea port by providing some additional funds. South Australia is sitting on rich mineral deposits, but a deep sea port is crucial for South Australia to get the products to overseas markets efficiently and economically.

“A deep sea port development will stimulate the SA economy, providing jobs right here and now – and for decades to come – as the State realises the economic opportunities a mining export facility can provide.”

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