Oakajee Port and Rail (OPR) yesterday announced it would increase the capacity of its Oakajee deepwater port in Western Australia to 45 million tonnes per annum.
The company also confirmed it had three potential foundation customers in its sights for contractual discussions.
These include Sinosteel Midwest, Karara Mining and Crosslands Resources.
According to OPR chief executive John Langoulant, strong interest from nearby iron ore miners had driven the decision to increase the capacity by nearly 30%.
“The level of iron ore tonnage nominations we received last month from regional miners made it clear that there is a real case to consider greater start-up capacity than we had originally anticipated,” he said.
“OPR’s studies during 2010 will now focus on designing a port configuration, including two berths, which will accommodate up to 45 million tonnes per annum of mid-west iron ore.
“Completing the more detailed capacity studies and finalising the project parameters is also dependent on the mines finalising the feasibility of their projects.”
The three potential partners operate the nearby Weld Range, Karara and Jack Hills projects respectively.
They could soon receive an offer of initial capacity for the new port and rail system.
“Positive due diligence results could lead to offers of initial port capacity and more detailed supply chain contract discussions during 2010,” Langoulant said.
Langoulant said OPR was preparing a feasibility study for submission to the WA Government at the end of March, with the final feasibility study due later this year.
The company hopes to complete construction of the port and rail project and export the first shipments by early 2014.
OPR has also received interest from miners for expanded capacity beyond 45 million tonnes per annum.