Live export to resume
Live cattle exporters are cautiously optimistic about the resumption of live export from the world’s largest bulk export terminal at Port Hedland.
Next month, a ship full of cattle will leave the Pilbara for the first time since 2013-14, a boon for local pastoralists hoping to slash freight costs.
Frontier International South East Asia manager Ashley James said his company was in talks with Pilbara Ports Authority about the revitalised trade path.
But he said PPA needed to prove it was as serious about becoming a hub for cattle exporters as well as the region’s key mining industry players.
“Our biggest worry is whether we would be able to bring our ship alongside at arrivals,” Mr James said.
With Australia’s national beef herd at a 20-year low, Mr James said exporters considering Port Hedland needed to make sure they could fill boats.
“We sell to the specification of customers, for example 3000 to 4000 head, so we need to be able to buy that number of cattle in the Pilbara,” he said. “If it’s an order for a 3400 steers at a certain weight then that’s what we need to put on it, but if you’re 600 short, that’s not good.”
Onslow pastoralist Rory de Pledge said high rainfall meant cattle had plenty of feed and could be fattened in the Pilbara instead of being trucked south.
He manages Koordarrie Station, 80km south of Onslow, and plans to export about 1500 head of cattle this year.
He said cattle prices, which firmed at $3.20 earlier in the year, looked set to remain high for the short to medium term.
Live cattle exports will resume in the Pilbara next month for the first time since 2013-14.