EYRE Peninsula's Free Eyre has welcomed South Australia's approval of the Public Environmental Report for stage one of Centrex Metals' Port Spencer project.
The nod thrusts the $250-million deep-water port facility proposed for Lipson Cove closer to reality.
Free Eyre is the chosen grain operator and its chief executive officer Mark Rodda hopes the project will eventually secure full approval, and boost competition in the grain sector.
"This approval is another box ticked for the port project and shows Centrex has met the various regulations," Mr Rodda said.
On Tuesday, Mr Rodda was in Melbourne for high-level discussions with potential financiers of the grain facilities.
Early estimates put the grain precinct development at $50-$70 million.
"This figure includes the grain industry's contribution to common infrastructure of the port project, such as roads, power and water, as well as grain handling equipment such as silos and bunkers," Mr Rodda said.
He said Port Spencer was one of the most important long-term projects for Free Eyre and the general agricultural community on the EP because it would increase competition in the region's grain handling sector.
"In simple terms, if a grain export facility can save farmers at least $10 per tonne by reducing costs in freight, storage and handling, and export, we are looking at 20 million staying with EP's growers," Mr Rodda said.
"The next step is a feasibility study and from a grain perspective, this is when we will really slip into gear.
"We are proceeding as Centrex proceeds and we are finalising parties to be involved in our grain venture."
Mr Rodda said Centrex had acted in a "highly professional manner" in its engagement with various stakeholders.
"Everyone won't be pleased, but they are trying their hardest," he said.
"Mining and agriculture need to work together."
Stage one of the proposal has a 500-metre long, deep water jetty/wharf, ship-loading facility, storage areas, and associated infrastructure for the export of iron ore and grain.
The port would be able to handle cape-sized vessels and is set to export up to 20 million tonnes of iron ore and grain each year.
The public environmental report examined the impact of a deep water facility on the rural coastal location, implications for traffic and the local road network, impacts on the marine and coastal environment, and potential economic benefits to the region.
Approval was given subject to "environmental safeguards".
In December last year, Acting Planning Minister Patrick Conlon welcomed the project's approval.
"There is no doubt that the Port Spencer project will be a massive boon for regional investment and local jobs," he said.
Full report in Stock Journal, February 14 issue, 2013.