The Pilbara is located in one of the most remote parts of the world, and while we export many hundreds of millions of tonnes of iron ore, salt, gas and other commodities – the facilities and equipment to achieve this and the necessities of domestic existence must all be transported in.
But while we are remote from Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, we are closer than any of them to Asia. Karratha is 2834 km from Singapore, while Perth is 3912 km and Sydney a whopping 6302 km away.
Yet 90% of the freight that comes to the Pilbara comes via Perth: it is shipped some 1250 km south of us then trucked right back up again. If we could bring this freight in direct to the Karratha, there would be a transport saving of over 2500 km.
To investigate the types of saving we could expect from a direct freight service, the City of Karratha engaged a consultant to perform a detailed investigation. The State Government, through the PDC, performed a related financial impact study.
The reports were received last week and provide some astonishing results:
- Each year more than 6.5M tonnes of freight moves in and out of the Pilbara - 74% of which is incoming.
- Cost savings of up to 50% and schedule savings of up to 70% could be achieved by shipping freight directly into and out of Dampier.
- There is sufficient demand for direct sea freight to major Asian ports, particularly Singapore.
The implications of this are enormous, creating opportunities for a range of new businesses and decreasing the costs of some items below that of Perth.
The City will continue to work with State Government agencies and interested parties to promote the opportunities identified by these studies.