Pilbara cattle export facility a ‘no-brainer’
■ More opportunities for cattle exports and the introduction of improved processing facilities in the Pilbara were hot topics of discussion at the CEDA conference in Karratha last week.
Pastoralists in the Pilbara are currently trucking their cattle to ports such as Broome and Fremantle, despite Port Hedland having infrastructure ready to facilitate cattle exports.
Pilbara Ports Authority chief executive Roger Johnston said anyone looking to set up a supply line from Hedland simply needed to contact the marine team to get it organised.
“We can manage a small number of those vessels, and when I say a small number I mean for local demand, but if we are going to grow demand we need to build bigger facilities,” he said.
“What I have been talking about is developments like that at Lumsden Point.
“If you are going to build a general use Greenfields port why wouldn’t you incorporate facilities to handle large numbers of cattle?”
Mr Johnston said cattle facilities at the mooted Anketell port would be dependent on industry demand.
Minderoo Foundation chief executive Nicola Forrest said increasing processing and opening up more opportunities for cattle exports were challenges for the industry.
“My understanding is under the State Agreement, the Chevron wharf which is under construction is going to be made open for the public in two to three years and I would imagine that is a perfect place to export because it already has the deep water,” she said.
“Minderoo can offer quarantining for cattle right there on that land and that would be a win-win for Pilbara pastoralists.
“I have cattle on a truck today headed to Broome for export so if I only have to go as far as Port Hedland, it’s a lot closer.”
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said dependent on the cost of getting facilities up and running, exports from the Pilbara were a nobrainer.
“The critical thing here is to enhance the infrastructure which is already here and try and get that working,” he said.
Federal MP Alannah MacTiernan said the potential for improved processing and export facilities in the Pilbara relied on sensible use of mine dewatering for finishing off of cattle in the Pilbara.
Pilbara Ports Authority executive Roger Johnston.