Fortescue Metals Group is hoping that the government approval for a fifth berth at Port Hedland will come in by next month.
The third largest producer of iron ore in Australia is hoping to triple its output and the fifth berth will help increase efficiency in loading and exporting of the ore dockside.
Peter Meurs, development director of Fortescue Metals Group, said that having a fifth berth simply allowed you to have a ship on a lay-by berth waiting while you’re loading another ship. The company already has approval from the port authorities to build a fourth shiploader, which should be enough to move almost all of the expanded iron ore production it hopes to handle. However the additional berth will make it more efficient.
Fortescue Metals Group is controlled by Andrew “Twiggy”Forrest, who is the richest man in Australia. The company is primed to spend $8.4 billion on its mining operations to help expand its export capacity to 155 million tonnes a year by 2013.
The port expansion will be done along with BHP Billiton as both companies know that iron ore demand is likely to stay strong. The port currently exports all of BHP Billiton’s Australian mined ore. It is already the largest bulk commodity export harbor in the world having shipped 192.5 million tonnes in 2011.