Work will begin soon at the Esperance Port on new facilities which will handle the importing and exporting of products associated with BHP Billiton’s $1.4billion Ravensthorpe Nickel Project.
Premier Geoff Gallop and Acting Planning and Infrastructure Minister John Bowler visited the port today to inspect the sites where the new $19million sulphur storage facility and $12million shore-based gantry crane will be constructed.
Kerman Contracting - a company which has had a long association with the port - has been awarded the contract to build the 210m-long, 74m-wide sulphur storage facility, expected to be completed by June next year. The storage facility will have the capacity to store 120,000 tonnes of sulphur.
Tenders to construct the new shore-based gantry crane will be called later this month, closing in October, with construction of the crane expected to be completed in the final quarter of 2007.
Dr Gallop said the new facilities, valued at a total of $31million, were a major part of the Government’s commitment to the Ravensthorpe Nickel Project.
The BHP-Billiton project - which will begin production in early 2007 - will reap huge rewards for Ravensthorpe by creating 1,000 jobs during construction and 300 permanent jobs once the mine is operational.
In addition, the Government is investing another $9.6million to build a new common-user multi-purpose bulk storage facility - taking the total capital works program at Esperance Port to $40.6million during this term of Government.
“The Goldfields-Esperance region’s economy is booming,” the Premier said.
“The $40.6million we are investing in new facilities at Esperance Port will help to sustain this growth - now and into the future.
“WA is an export driven State - so by investing heavily in the State’s ports, we are supporting our export markets and our regional economies, opening up new investment opportunities and creating new jobs.”
An estimated 500,000 tonnes of sulphur will be imported annually from Canada to Esperance, then transported to the BHP-Billiton nickel mine at Bandalup Hill, 140km west of the Esperance, where it will be used to process the laterite nickel.
Mr Bowler said the new shore-based gantry crane would open up significant export opportunities in the Goldfields -Esperance region.
“The new crane will load and unload containers - an estimated 1,000 a month - and be fitted with a grab to unload bulk sulphur,” he said.
“It will be the only container-handling crane in Western Australia outside Fremantle Port.
“The export opportunities for the region’s mining operations and farmers who are producing products such as seed potatoes, cereals and stock feed - will be significant.”
Kerman Contracting - which won the contract to build the sulphur shed from five other tenderers and built the three existing iron ore storage facilities at the port - is currently building the $14million storage shed for Portman Iron Ore Limited. Currently expanding its Koolyanobbing mine, Portman plans to increase its iron ore export through the port from five to eight million tonnes a year by 2007.
Once the Ravensthorpe Nickel Project and the expanded Koolyanobbing mine are in full production, Esperance Port is expected to handle 11 million tonnes of cargo a year.
Premier’s office: 9222 9475
Planning and Infrastructure Minister’s office: 9213 6400