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PILBARA Ports Authority has broken its annual throughput record with a total of 733.1 million tonnes over the 2021-22 financial year.

PPA said this is an increase of 1% compared with the past financial year.

CEO Roger Johnston said PPA is progressing several major infrastructure projects to diversify trade and ensure the authority is well positioned to meet port proponent growth aspirations.

“A key priority for PPA is to expand trade through the Port of Port Hedland. This will be achieved through the review of the Port Hedland Port Development Plan which has identified opportunities to grow iron exports to 660 million tonnes per annum,” Mr Johnston said.

“There is also a need to develop a general cargo berth at Lumsden Point to alleviate pressure on existing general cargo berths, with the ultimate development also supporting emerging markets such as battery metals and the growth of direct shipping services to the Pilbara.”

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Mr Johnston said the Port of Dampier is also set to expand, with the construction of a new multi-user wharf to support the proposed $4.3 billion project that will open access to a world-wide market for urea.

He said these significant infrastructure projects will ensure PPA can continue expanding to meet forecast demand.

“We expect to see significant growth in emerging markets, particularly with growing demand to import renewable energy infrastructure, including wind turbines and blades, as well as creating new export pathways for critical minerals and rare earths,” Mr Johnston said.

“Our long-term planning also includes exploring import and export opportunities at the Port of Ashburton and planning for five greenfield ports.

“The growth in capacity and trade is underpinned by the contribution PPA makes to the Australian economy, with the value of commodities passing through our ports this financial year exceeding $165 billion.”

In 2021-22, more than 42% of global iron ore trade and almost 7% of global LNG trade passed through PPA ports. This was achieved with 17,000 safe vessel movements, an average of 35 vessels per day.

These volumes are likely to increase over the next few years, as PPA expects the Port Hedland Port Development Plan review to be finalised this year.

“[The plan] will enable the growth of iron ore exports to 660 million tonnes per year,” Mr Johnston said.

“This is a 41% increase to modelled capacity since the last review was undertaken in 2012 and enables a 25% increase in allocation to existing proponents.”

Mr Johnston said the development of Lumsden Point is critical to facilitating forecast trade growth, supporting trade diversification, and creating new export pathways for the Pilbara.

“The ultimate development of a multi-user facility and logistics hub will facilitate the export of battery metals such as lithium and copper concentrates,” he said.

“These projects will support long-term growth at the port, facilitating trade diversification, import of renewable technology and export of battery metals while increasing the total volume of trade through our ports.”

And at the Port of Dampier, plans are progressing on a new cargo wharf, which will open access to a global market for urea and support trade diversification.

“An expression of interest was released in March for the design and construction of the new wharf and the dredging of a berth pocket,” Mr Johnston said.

“This will support the proposed Perdaman Urea Project while creating additional export and import opportunities for other proponents. These projects will be critical to facilitating future direct shipping trade at both the Port of Port Hedland and the Port of Dampier, a service which has grown rapidly over the last 12 months.”

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