AusRAIL, Market Sectors

BHP thinks bigger on Port Hedland expansion

<p>Port Hedland will have reclaimed the title of Australia’s largest port by 2010 under plans approved by BHP last week (Friday, March 23).</p> <p>BHP approved construction of the $2.3bn fourth stage of its Rapid Growth Project, the third stage of which is already underway and will take the port’s iron ore capacity to 129mtpa by the end of 2007.</p> <p>The newly-approved fourth stage, due for completion in the first half of 2010, will take BHP’s rail and port capacity to 155mtpa.</p> <p>Rio Tinto is pushing ahead with the second stage expansion of its Parker Point facilities at the port of Dampier, which is due to take throughput to 140mtpa by the end of 2007.</p> <p>The first stage brought Dampier to 116mtpa, just over the 109mtpa that BHP’s facilities at Port Hedland presently handle.</p> <p>Combined with a vastly expanded Cape Lambert operation &#8211 expected to have capacity for 80mtpa by the fourth quarter of 2008 &#8211 Rio’s total annual iron ore potential from the Pilbara is expected to be close to 220m tonnes.</p> <p>BHP’s fourth stage expansion will involve several key upgrades from the mines to the port, including additional crushing, screening and processing facilities. </p> <p>The expansion also includes more locomotives, wagons and rail sidings, and a second stockpile row for Finucane Island.</p> <p>BHP said the upgrade would also minimise dust emissions at the port.</p> <p>BHP Billiton Iron Ore president Ian Ashby said the company was considering further expansion stages, subject to demand.</p> <p>"We are committed to creating further value-adding options for the business and providing the next phase of growth opportunities beyond our recent expansion projects," he said.</p> <br />