Port Bonython an infrastructure priority

Released to coincide with the federal budget on Tuesday, the priority list recommends the port, 250 kilometres northwest of Adelaide, be developed as part of the national ports strategy. Port Bonython is a proposed 20 million tonne per annum export harbour at Whyalla to cater for iron ore and other mineral extracted exports from SA. It includes a 2.7km jetty, rail connection, inter-modal and associated landside storage facilities.Inclusion on the list means the proposed $600 million development is eligible for Building Australia funds, which would help expedite the port’s construction. Western Plains Resources executive chairman Bob Duffin told CIN’s sister publication MiningNews.net that the Port Bonython Bulk Users Group – which includes Western Plains Resources, Centrex Metals, IMX Resources and Ironclad Mining – believes the harbour’s inclusion on the list could be a major step towards receiving a contribution from the federal government. “I think potential users will take comfort from the fact that the state is getting behind the project and the commonwealth has recognised the project is one of national importance,” Duffin said.“The state recognises the potential users of the port are at different stages of the development cycle and, while over time there will be users to justify the capital investment by the private sector, in order to get the facility developed earlier there needs to be some level of government support.“The inclusion on the list demonstrates the project is not trivial, it has credibility and merit, but this in itself does not guarantee funding.”Duffin said the port had the potential to transform the SA economy from a manufacturing base into one reliant on mineral exports.He said there could be demand for up to 8-10 million tonnes per annum capacity by 2010 and up to 20Mtpa by 2015.A preferred tender status for the port’s development was handed down in October last year to the Spencer Gulf Port Link consortium, which comprises Flinders Port Holdings, Leighton Contractors, Macquarie Capital, BIS Industrial Logistics and ARTC. Duffin said there were great similarities at Port Bonython to the $3.6 billion Oakajee Port in Western Australia that was granted money in Tuesday’s federal budget due to its inclusion on the list.“The consortium and users groups behind Port Bonython are not looking for government handouts. “What is being sought is support and recognition that our model is similar, if not more cost efficient, to Oakajee and requires the same amount of enthusiasm and interest in its development,” Duffin said. Whyalla Economic Development Board (WEDB) chief executive Steve Arndt said the board was also throwing its support behind the port’s development and saw the project as an opportunity the region could not afford to miss.“As an organisation we represent the business interests of our city, and a lot of business owners and business leaders have approached me and said we need to get behind this project,” he said.“Obviously there are some concerns in the community around potential environmental impact, but when you look at the consortium that has been put together behind this project, they are a highly professional consortium and we expect that they will deal with all environment issues as they need to be considered.”The port is currently used for the export of LPG and crude oil from the Cooper Basin.

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