Iron ore ship­ment lifts morale

Kalgoorlie Miner - - FRONT PAGE -

The re­sump­tion of Esperance port’s iron ore trade will give the town time to diver­sify its econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to Esperance Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive Kylie Ryan.

Min­eral Re­sources sent the maiden train from its Koolyanob­bing oper­a­tions near South­ern Cross on the 550km trip to the port late on Wed­nes­day, the first ar­rival of the prod­uct in Esperance in five months.

The 7500-tonne cargo of iron ore fines, car­ried on 106 wag­ons, ar­rived early yes­ter­day morn­ing.

The mine was shut in June by its pre­vi­ous owner, US-based Cleve­land Cliffs, prompt­ing fears more than 120 port work­ers in Esperance would lose their jobs be­fore ASX-listed MinRes pur­chased the oper­a­tions.

Ms Ryan said the ar­rival of the first load was a morale booster for the com­mu­nity, with MinRes ex­pected to ship 6-6.25 mil­lion tonnes of iron ore through Esperance for the next five to six years.

She said the ar­range­ment would pro­vide a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to se­cure new sources of trade.

“It’s been very quiet with­out them com­ing through and we’ve no­ticed that ab­sence, that gap that was left when Cliffs with­drew,” she said.

“I know the port are work­ing re­ally hard to not only sup­port the Min­eral Re­sources oper­a­tions but also diver­sify the sort of prod­ucts that go through, so they’re hav­ing lots of con­ver­sa­tions through­out the re­gion.

“What we don’t want to see again is that heavy re­liance that the com­mu­nity had on any one re­source be­cause it cre­ates a frag­ile state.

“If we have mul­ti­ple re­sources mov­ing through then ob­vi­ously in terms of global eco­nom­ics if some­thing falls a lit­tle bit in value we still have re­sources that can con­tinue (ship­ping).”

The Koolyanob­bing op­er­a­tion will be of a smaller scale than it was un­der Cliffs but once they are ramped up 15 trains will pass through the port each week.

Iron ore has been the port’s bread and but­ter trade since Koolyanob­bing was opened by Port­man Min­ing in 1994.

South­ern Ports act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Alan By­ers said the ar­rival of the first train was a “sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone”, and un­der­pinned more than 100 jobs at the Esperance port oper­a­tions.

MinRes man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris El­li­son said the com­pany be­lieves it can main­tain a vi­able busi­ness through its Yil­garn iron ore trade.

“When we de­cided ear­lier this year to take on the Koolyanob­bing oper­a­tions pre­vi­ously op­er­ated by Cleve­land-Cliffs, we did so be­cause of our firm be­lief we could sus­tain a vi­able iron ore ex­port op­er­a­tion in the re­gion and safe­guard hun­dreds of jobs in re­gional West­ern Aus­tralia,” he said. “We look for­ward to build­ing up our iron ore stock­piles at the port of Esperance ahead of load­ing our first ship be­fore the end of this year.”

Esperance port also ships grain, wood­chips, lithium, nickel and cop­per con­cen­trate, although iron ore ac­counted for 75 per cent of its ex­ports when Cliffs made the call to shut Koolyanob­bing ear­lier this year.

Pic­ture: South­ern Ports

Josh Chiat Min­eral Re­sources has restarted iron ore haulage to Esperance Port af­ter a five-week ab­sence.

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