Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today a major international port operator was among consortiums looking to build, own and operate a new port at Kwinana-Naval Base.
Expressions of interest for the new facility, which would operate in competition with the Port of Fremantle, closed at 4 pm today.
"Commercial confidentiality precludes us naming the parties until the formal assessment stage within the next few weeks, but I can confirm that one of the companies is world-recognised in the management and operation of ports," Mr Charlton said.
Mr Charlton said the call for expressions of interest from the private sector to build and operate a new port had been advertised world-wide.
"We have provided an opportunity to build a facility on the western terminus of the east-west standard gauge line at Kwinana and capitalise on the national plan for a massive upgrade of the rail link," he said.
"There is a new national vision in rail and Western Australia stands to become a major beneficiary from a high-speed transcontinental track capable of carrying 1,800m long freight trains at average speeds in excess of 100kph.
"The high speed freight corridor will open up a variety of opportunities for WA, including the chance for us to become a freight gateway for the rest of the nation.
"WA is committed to spending up to $80million to establish a state-of-the-art computerised signalling system for the Kalgoorlie-Kwinana section of the standard gauge line.
"The total cost of upgrading the standard guage line from Brisbane to Perth has been estimated at about $1 billion, of which the Federal Government has already allocated $250 million.
"There is a national audit being carried out to identify precisely what needs to be done to upgrade the line by the year 2000.
"The expressions of interest in the Kwinana-Naval base port facility are a measure of the confidence in the State's future growth and the potential to capitalise on the opportunities the transcontinental line will create.
"Any new port at Kwinana-Naval Base will also provide a continuity of service guarantee on which port users and potential investors can build their business."
Mr Charlton said the identity of the preferred tenderer and the scope of the port development proposal would become public following the formal assessment process.
"Any proposal will then have to undergo the normal planning and developmental processes including environmental studies," he said.
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333