THREE new ports for the Eyre Peninsula are still on the card, with T-Ports’ Lucky Bay site well advanced and Free Eyre moving forward with its Port Spencer project.
A new port about 10 kilometres away from the Free Eyre site at Cape Hardy is also still on the cards for Iron Road.
Free Eyre chief executive officer Mark Rodda said the land at Port Spencer was secured by the company, with a deposit put down on December 19 and the transaction to be settled early in the new year.
Mr Rodda said it would be a busy time for the company in coming weeks as it worked to secure $10 million of funding through the federal government’s $272.2m Regional Growth Fund.
“We’re one of 300 applicants and one of 16 moved through to the shortlist,” he said.
“We now need to provide a full business case to the federal government.
“We’ll be working across Christmas and new year because our full business case has to be submitted by January 25 to access the $10m grant, so we want to make sure we don’t miss out on that.
“At the same time we’re working with the state government to seek matching funding as well.”
Mr Rodda said the company was working with potential investors to source money for development and capital works.
“Having that federal and state interest is really increasing the interest from potential private investors,” he said.
“We’re really excited with how it’s all travelling. We’re planning to have it operating in two years’ time, for the 2020-21 harvest.”
Free Eyre’s plan involves at 620-metre wharf, a ship loader, a multi-commodity conveyor system, silos and sheds at the Port Spencer site, which was flagged for development by Centrex Metals back in 2012.
Mr Rodda said the project was costed at about $140m.
“All the engineering numbers we have so far point to that figure,” he said.
As a way of gauging grower interest in the project, Free Eyre went out to farmers at the EP Field days, seeking a commitment to deliver grain to the new facility, which would entitle producers to a rebate on storage and handling charges.
“We had 300,000 tonnes committed through that process,” Mr Rodda said.
“We’ve shut that off for the time being but we may still ask other farmers if they want to be involved in the new year.”
Cape Hardy stays goal for Iron Road
Iron Road remains committed to the Cape Hardy site for its proposed port, despite another facility possibly being built only kilometres away, principal advisor of stakeholder engagement Tim Scholz says.
The project includes the construction of an iron ore mine and a deep-water port.
“The Cape Hardy project is still steadily going through the processes,” Mr Scholz said.
“The project certainly hasn’t gone away, we’re continuing to work with farmers on the Eyre Peninsula.”
Mr Scholz believes the Free Eyre project does not have community support at its present site.
“Iron Road doesn’t intend to move anywhere,” he said.
“What’s happening (with Free Eyre) will have no impact on Iron Road, the Cape Hardy site won’t change.
“Iron Road withdrew any interest in Port Spencer in 2010. That was eight years ago and we’ve seen nothing since to change our mind.”
No preferred project for SA’s grain group
Grain Producers SA chief executive officer Caroline Rhodes said the organisation had not adopted a preferred project with Eyre Peninsula ports, but would instead work with all competing parties in the interests of grain producers, as each of the proposals progressed.
“In order to remain globally competitive, SA growers need access to the most efficient and cost-effective grain export pathway,” she said.
“Reducing supply chain costs through competition – rather than regulation – is the best way to improve grower returns. This is particularly important on the EP, where there is a sole port terminal operator servicing the region and limited access to the domestic market.
“GPSA welcomes the interest by private investors in developing new port infrastructure, as a sign of confidence in the future of the industry.
“Attracting new, large-scale investment will unlock future economic growth.”