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A major development milestone for one of South Australia’s most crucial infrastructure projects was achieved today with a new multi-million dollar bulk commodities export facility at Port Bonython on Spencer Gulf given major project status by the S.A. Government.

The South Australian Government today declared the project – to be developed by Spencer Gulf Port Link Consortium – to be of major environmental, social and economic importance to the State under section 46 of the Development Act 1993.

The major project declaration triggers the most exhaustive development assessment process in South Australia.

“We welcome the SA Government’s decision, and the consortium will now undertake the necessary next step to progress this in a timely manner,” Flinders Ports Chief Executive and Consortium spokesman, Mr Vincent Tremaine, said today.

“It means South Australia is a further step closer towards construction commencing on a world-class infrastructure development – one vital to the future prosperity of this state,” he said.

“We are also pleased the SA Government agrees with us that Port Bonython is the most appropriate location for this type of port in the area, taking in a number of factors including water depth, land availability, and its proximity to rail and proposed mining projects in the region.

“Much work has already been undertaken on this project, and there is much more to go, but today’s declaration is a significant step forward in the process.

“Further, it underscores the Government’s awareness of the types of projects that need to be constructed in the short term if the State is to maximise economic opportunities that will arise out of the current and future mining booms.”

Today’s announcement comes as a comprehensive environmental assessment of the preferred site is being finalised. Last year, Spencer Gulf Port Link Consortium announced it had engaged national strategic design and engineering firm, Arup, to prepare a report addressing a range of different issues including project management, environmental management and sustainability, rail and maritime access, and community consultation.

Spencer Gulf Port Link Consortium comprises Flinders Port Holdings, Leighton Contractors, Macquarie Capital, BIS Industrial Logistics and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

Mr Tremaine said the final design for the project is dependent on a range of issues, including geotechnical conditions, environmental controls, finalising user agreements with customers, a wide range of approvals, and financing for the project.

However, it is likely to include:

  • a three kilometre-long jetty reaching into deep water, with enclosed conveyors and a ship loader;
  • the jetty being designed to handle “Cape” size ships carrying up to 180,000 tonnes of cargo, and;
  • significant rail and storage facilities on land adjacent the jetty precinct.

Mr Tremaine said if the project is approved, construction would take about 2.5 years to complete, and employ about 400 workers. It could be ready for export in about 4.0 to 4.5 years from now.

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