Pilbara Ports eyes off iron ore at Ashburton


The Port of Ashburton. Photo courtesy of Pilbara Ports Authority.

The Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) has begun investigating the trade of iron ore at the Port of Ashburton in Western Australia, in response to increased exports.

PPA chief executive officer Roger Johnston revealed to Australian Mining the Port of Ashburton – 450 kilometres southwest of Port Hedland – was the subject of expansionary investigations.

“Pilbara Ports Authority is exploring export and import opportunities at the Port of Ashburton. This includes diversifying trade through the Port of Ashburton’s general cargo facilities,” Johnston said.

“Pilbara Ports Authority is working with a number of resources companies to support smaller transhipping operations and unlock stranded iron ore assets in the West Pilbara.”

The Port of Ashburton is currently a strategic industrial area for the processing of LNG and natural gas for the state’s domestic gas supply.

The port also handles project cargo, break bulk and general cargo.

However, Johnston indicated that nearby businesses were calling for a change to the current set-up at Ashburton.

“Any development of infrastructure will be driven by individual proponents,” Johnston said.

“Potential export timelines are dependent on a proponent’s development and operational model.”

The Ashburton announcement came less than two weeks after BHP announced it was approved for 40 million more tonnes of annual throughput at Port Hedland.

In July, PPA reported a 29 per cent jump in full-year throughput, setting a record for the second time in two years.

The 724.7 million tonnes (Mt) in the 2020-21 financial year beat out the previous 12 month’s 700Mt record, indicating the growth occurring in the Western Australian resources industry.

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