The state government of Western Australia has identified Anketell, 30 km east of Karratha and 10 km from Cape Lambert, as the site for the next major deepwater iron ore port for the Pilbara. Premier Colin Barnett announced that the government will spend A$3.5 million during the next three years to plan and prepare an Industrial Precinct Development Agreement for the project, including commercial, legal and engineering advice to negotiate the agreement. The deepwater port and industrial precinct are planned to complement the existing Port Hedland and Dampier ports and will be developed to accommodate a range of users and different mineral commodities.

The Anketell industrial precinct is planned to include a port having more than 350 million mt/y of export capacity, an industrial area of more than 1,400 ha (3,460 acres), and a corridor for transport and services.  The port will be serviced by existing towns, especially nearby Karratha.

The port will be built by a private proponent under an agreement with the state government, a statement said. The Department of State Development will lead negotiations on behalf of the government, Dampier Port Authority will manage the new port and infrastructure corridors, and LandCorp will develop the industrial precinct.

Three significant iron ore projects are identified by the government as potential foundation investors in the new precinct: API Management, for its 30-million- to 40-million-mt/y West Pilbara iron ore project; Fortescue Metals, for its 30-million- to 60-million-mt/y Solomon project; and China Metallurgical Group, for its 15-million-mt/y Cape Lambert iron ore project. The government will work with these companies or an infrastructure provider to develop the project, with plans to commence operations by 2015.

“The strength of Western Australia’s iron ore exports and the growth plans of current users are testing the capacity of the existing Pilbara ports,” Barrett said. “In 2008-2009, the Pilbara exported more than 326 million mt of bulk commodities, mainly iron ore. This is forecast to reach more than 530 million mt/y by 2015 and as much as 750 million mt/y by 2020. The Anketell port and industrial precinct will provide opportunities for new exports and processing of iron ore and other minerals.”