Whyalla gets head-start in SA port stakes


Arrium-controlled Spencer Gulf facility the focus of state government attention

Whyalla gets head-start in SA port stakes
Tom Koutsantonis says his government is in talks to open up Whyalla.

 

The South Australian government has taken steps to open up Whyalla’s port as the mining downturn leaves a substantial capacity gap.

Following a Resources Infrastructure Taskforce (RIT) report that identifies Whyalla as one of three preferred options for a multi-user, bulk capacity port in the Upper Spencer Gulf, SA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with iron ore mining and steel owner Arrium to allow access to other firms.

"The MOU will help guide negotiations that will potentially lead to third-party access to current unused capacity at Arrium’s wholly-owned Port of Whyalla, as well as capacity-expanding investment to support future development in the Upper Spencer Gulf," Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says.

"The state government is committed to ensuring the Spencer Gulf achieves its full potential, as part of our economic priority to unlock the value of our State’s resources.

"The signing of the MOU is also one of the first major outcomes to arise from the in-depth analysis conducted by the Resources Infrastructure Taskforce on preferred port options for the Spencer Gulf, which identified the potential for expansion at Whyalla."

The MOU agrees to:

reach an agreement to cover third-party applications for use of Arrium's Whyalla Port

revise the Whyalla indentures to support existing and new industries and infrastructure in the Whyalla region.

Arrium managing director and CEO Andrew Roberts says the Whyalla Port is a scaleable, versatile and valuable infrastructure asset with a proven capability of handling large volumes of bulk mineral cargoes.

"Arrium and the South Australian government both regard investment in the Whyalla Port as a key opportunity, particularly to encourage the development of numerous magnetite deposits that exist in South Australia," Roberts adds.

Koutsantonis says the MOU also provided an exciting opportunity to create a new and appropriate framework for Arrium's existing operations, as well as new opportunities for the Whyalla region.

"This in turn is expected to create an attractive investment environment for both existing and new industries to allow them to build on Whyalla's unique history and infrastructure," he says.

The other two ports the RIT identifies are the planned Cape Hardy port on central eastern Eyre Peninsula, proposed by Iron Road, and Braemar Infrastructure’s planned Myponie Point facility on northern Yorke Peninsula.

Of the trio, Whyalla has the only existing freight rail infrastructure linked nationally.

Unveiled last month, the RIT report says Whyalla, which is suitable for bulk loading handymax-sized ships and for transhipping, "could provide an opportunity for the export of iron ore from developing projects in the regions, both on the western and eastern sides of Spencer Gulf".

It builds on last year’s Regional Mining Infrastructure Plan (RMIP) but with a backdrop of further falls in the global iron ore and steel markets.

The RIT aims to develop a South Australian Iron Ore Strategy as the decades-long struggle to realise its mining and resources potential continues.

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