INDUSTRY in the Pilbara will be able to further maximise tonnages through the port of Port Hedland with potential shipping capacity at the port increased by 40 million tonnes per annum to 617Mtpa, an increase of 6.9%.

Annual capacity allocations for each port user will remain the same. However, the increased capacity will allow all port users more capacity above their allocated tonnages by accessing D‑class shipping opportunities under the Port Hedland Vessel Movement Protocols.

The new capacity modelling by Pilbara Ports Authority was a result of state government and industry investment at the port including capital dredging, innovative marine technology and other port efficiencies.

This includes the recently completed three-year dredging works program, the Channel Risk and Optimisation Project. The $120m project included the removal of ‘high spots’ in the channel, optimising navigable depths to allow deeper drafted vessels to safely navigate along the 42 kilometre shipping channel.

Also driving this increase is the continued movement and facilitation of larger vessels in the channel. The sizes of ships coming into Port Hedland have increased significantly in recent years, with 45% of vessels now carrying more than 200,000 deadweight tonnage, compared to less than 10% in 2009.

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Western Australian ports minister Alannah MacTiernan said, “This extra shipping capacity in Port Hedland aligns strongly with the McGowan government’s strategy to drive economic development and jobs in our State’s north.

“Providing this extra capacity will give industry the confidence to continue to invest in the Pilbara’s resources sector, helping to drive regional jobs, trade and royalties that benefit all Western Australians.”

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