BCI Minerals Limited has partnered with Canada-based CSL Group to build a custom-designed transhipper for Australia’s biggest solar salt project, based in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The transhipment vessel to support the Mardie Salt and Potash Project will handle 5.35 million tonnes of salt and 140,000 tonnes of sulfate and potash per year once the project is up and running.

Construction of the new vessel begins in 2026 with delivery scheduled for mid-2027. Beginning in the second half of 2026, CSL will provide a vessel on time charter to deliver transhipment services to the Mardie Project while the new vessel is being built.

The vessel is part of a 21-year strategic partnership with BCI Minerals Limited (“BCI”) to build and operate the transhipment vessel to support the Mardie Salt and Potash Project.

Loading will take place at BCI’s jetty loadout facility in Cape Preston, Western Australia, with the vessel navigating 12-15 nautical miles to transfer the cargo to ocean-going ships from Handysize to Newcastle Max bulk carriers.

Once completed the project will not have to rely on third party infrastructure, using its own export terminal to ship product to key Asian markets.

President and CEO of the CSL Group, Louis Martel said the custom-built diesel-electric ship would provide a high-performance, safe and sustainable solution for the Mardie project.

He said the new ship was environmentally sustainable and provided a pathway to achieve decarbonization targets.

“Its diesel-electric propulsion system is engineered for future conversion to clean fuels or electrification.”

The vessel also features shallow draft to maximize cargo lift within tide and channel constraints and has a total deadweight of approximately 16,000 metric tonnes.

Its gravity discharge is suitable for loading salt, sulfate of potash and other dry bulk commodities onto ocean-going vessels with a deadweight of up to 207,000 tonnes.

The vessel also has high manoeuvrability, with double-ended propulsion and four azimuth drives and an integrated diesel-electric propulsion and powering system.

It will have single-point loading system with a loading rate of 3,300 tonnes per hour and self-unloading system with a discharge rate of 4,000 tonnes per hour.

Mardie is located 100km southwest of Karratha on the West Pilbara coast and ranks third largest solar salt project in the world.

Salt is used in thousands of products and applications including glass, paint, water purification, paper and building materials. Sulphate of Potash is a high-value fertiliser.

Mardie will use solar evaporation of seawater to produce the salt.