Premier Alan Carpenter today announced that Oakajee Port and Rail Pty Ltd had been selected as the preferred developer of a deep water port, which would enable a major step forward for the Mid-West’s iron ore sector.
Mr Carpenter said the proposal was for a port at Oakajee, approximately 22km north of Geraldton, to service the anticipated needs of mining companies and users of the Oakajee Industrial Estate in the Mid-West region.
Oakajee Port and Rail was competing with Yilgarn Infrastructure for the rights to build the port. The companies were nominated by Murchison Metals Ltd and Midwest Corporation Ltd respectively as their infrastructure providers.
The Premier said the Government endorsed the decision after Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan provided advice on recommendations from an evaluation panel supported by specialist technical teams.
“Both proposals had merit, but technical assessment of the two proposals resulted in a very definitive recommendation in favour of Oakajee Port and Rail,” he said.
“Its proposal was judged to be more developed and robust than that of its competitor, and to present the State with the best opportunity to develop a world-class port.
"The evaluation panel and supporting technical teams examined in detail the commercial, legal, engineering, social and environmental aspects of the two proposals submitted.”
Ms MacTiernan said the detail provided and the confidence expressed in the Oakajee Port and Rail response reflected a growing optimism that the construction of a port at Oakajee would proceed.
“Financing of both proposals was conditional on confirmation of project feasibility - so there is some way to go before there is a clear green light for the project,” she said.
“Further, the mining companies that would be the foundation customers for the project still needed to prove-up their resources and agree to ‘take-or-pay’, or similar arrangements sufficient to underpin the investment in port and transport infrastructure.
“Oakajee Port’s prospects will strengthen if the mining companies can find a way to work together.
“But clearly, selection of a preferred respondent is another important step towards realisation of the dream for a deep water port in the Mid-West.”
The Minister said the Government would retain ownership of the port, which would be managed by the Geraldton Port Authority.
“Although the infrastructure provider will develop common-use infrastructure such as the breakwater, channel and turning basins, these will be transferred to the ownership of the Geraldton Port Authority upon completion,” she said.
“There will also be third party access to private use infrastructure such as berths and loading equipment on fair and equitable terms, and on a commercial basis.”
Mr Carpenter said the Government would now enter into negotiations with Oakajee Port and Rail to reach a mutually agreeable and binding legal commitment for the development of port facilities at Oakajee Port.
“These negotiations are expected to be concluded by the end of this year, with project feasibility anticipated for completion by the middle of 2009,” he said.
“Construction can then begin once all necessary approvals are granted, and the port could become operational as early as 2012.”
More information is available at http://www.dpi.wa.gov.au/oakajee
Premier’s office - 9222 9475
Planning and Infrastructure Minister’s office - 9213 6400