The Western Australian State Government has identified ways to increase the shipping capacity in Port Hedland's channel by 16 percent over the next three years, Transport Minister Dean Nalder has announced.
Nalder said new modelling by the Pilbara Ports Authority and independent maritime engineering company OMC International had pinpointed opportunities to increase the port's forecast capacity from 495 million tons a year to 577 million tons.
"The extra capacity is a direct result of port innovations and efficiencies," he said.
The minister said the modelling was a powerful tool to evaluate potential port investments and operating scenarios, maximizing throughput at the port.
"The modelling looked at recent operational changes at the port including the use of innovative maritime technology, which has resulted in increased sailing drafts, the shipping companies' move to larger and more draft efficient vessels, and the port's ability to sail more ships on a tide," he said.
"The end result is more efficient shipping for port users and ultimately more royalties back to the state."
Acknowledging the potential for further growth in shipping tonnages, Nalder encouraged port users to work with the port authority to maximize their terminal efficiencies, landside operations and loading times.
The Port of Port Hedland, which saw a record annual throughput of 447 million tons in 2014-15, is responsible for about 30 percent of the global seaborne iron ore trade. This contributed $2.6 billion to State royalties last financial year.
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