Pilbara Marine Pty, a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Australia iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group, has won the tender for the second towage
license at the port of Port Hedland, Western Australia. Currently, a BHP Billiton subsidiary operates the only towage services at the port, with a fleet of 18 tugs.

Port Hedland is the world’s largest bulk export port. In 2014-2015, more than 446 million mt of bulk cargo were shipped through the port, with iron ore accounting for 435 million mt of the total. There were 5,867 vessel movements in the port during the year.

Under the terms of its license, Pilbara Marine will construct marine and landside facilities for the development of a tug haven and provide towage services for an initial term of 15 years, expected to begin by 2019. The company expects to begin operations with an initial fleet of nine tugs. Total capital cost of developing the infrastructure and operating vessels is expected come in at under $200 million.

Western Australia Transport Minister Dean Nalder said, “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. Port customers will benefit from increased options in tug services and the availability of services to meet future demand.”