Pilbara Marine Pty Ltd (Pilbara Marine), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue), has won the tender for the second towage licence at the Port of Port Hedland, the largest iron ore loading port in Australia.
Under the terms of the licence, Pilbara Marine will construct marine and landside facilities for the development of a tug haven behind Anderson Point berths 1 to 3 and provide towage services for an initial term of 15 years, expected to commence by 2019.
“There will be job opportunities during construction of the new tug haven, as well as further employment with the operation and maintenance of extra tug infrastructure,” Transport Minister Dean Nalder said.
“Port Hedland is the world’s biggest bulk export port. In 2014-15, more than 446 million tonnes of bulk cargo were shipped through the port.”
“The licence and tug facilities will provide additional capacity and an alternative supplier of tug services for all users of Port Hedland, improving efficiencies and maximising port capacity,” Fortescue said in statement announcing the deal.
The total capital cost of developing the infrastructure and operating vessels is expected to be less than USD 200 million and will be incurred in FY17 and FY18.
“The introduction of choice and competition through the award of a second licence will benefit all users of the port, and will ensure Fortescue can provide long-term, sustainable towage services crucial to meeting the demands of our customers,” Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Nev Power said.
Pilbara Marine is expected to begin operations in the 2018-19 financial year with an initial fleet of nine tugs.
BHP Billiton (Towage Services) Pty Ltd currently has a non-exclusive licence for towage services at the Port of Port Hedland and operates 18 tugs.
Iron ore exports from Port Hedland topped 435 million tonnes last financial year. There were 5,867 vessel movements in the Port of Port Hedland in 2014/15.