It has long been obvious that we could save a fortune on freight charges in Karratha if we could bring cargo directly in to the Port of Dampier.
This would save the shipping cost of sending cargo 1500 km south to Perth, unloading it, transporting it to a trucking warehouse, loading it on to a truck, then moving it 1500 km north again to Karratha by road. Why would you go 3000 km out of your way to transport freight to Karratha?
The City therefore decided to engage an expert in shipping to investigate this for us. The Pilbara Development Commission funded a complimentary study and the results were staggering.
The studies found, without any construction happening, an incredible 6.54 million tonnes per annum of freight comes in and out of the Pilbara - 90% of which, or 5.9 million tonnes, moves through Perth.
We were advised that we could slash the cost of freight transport by up to 50% and the time required to get it here by 70%.
The combined findings identified that there is sufficient demand through cargo aggregation to establish direct maritime freight links to major Asian trans-shipment ports, which is an exciting prospect.
The next stage involves confirmation of the market, finding the collective shipping and carrier interest, customs and quarantine requirements and the most appropriate overseas ports.
This work is now proceeding of its own accord, being undertaken by private companies. The City is liaising with our resource sector partners, the Pilbara Ports Authority, the PDC and the private sector as a part of this process.
Indications are that a direct freight service to the Port of Dampier will be established in the first half of 2020.
This will transform logistics in the Pilbara, promote long-term growth for the City and reduce one of the biggest costs and barriers of doing business in the region.