The State Government has handed Pindan Contracting the $39.5 million contract to design and build a new marine operations centre at Port Hedland.
The long-planned Integrated Marine Operations Centre will be the central hub for controlling shipping at the port, the world’s busiest bulk handing terminal.
The Pilbara Ports Authority had previously flagged site works to begin by the middle of the year, but now says it expects construction to begin by the end of this year.
The new facility will replace Port Hedland’s 45-year-old shipping control tower, new vessel control equipment, new training and briefing facilities. It will also house Port Hedland’s harbour master.
Acting transport minister John Day said the new facility is still expected to be operational by 2018, however.
Mr Day said the Pilbara Ports Authority is also pushing ahead with work on the $120 million expansion of Port Hedland’s shipping channel, which is tipped to allow greater exports from the port and reduce the risk of a disastrous blockage of the narrow channel, which could bring a large section of the State’s iron ore industry to a standstill.
The Channel Risk and Optimisation Project is set to take two years, and will involve the creation of a new emergency passing lane, extension of deep water refuge zones for ships and “of existing deeper depths along the tidally constrained 42 kilometre channel”.
The projects are funding from a port improvement levy charged to Port Hedland’s exporters.
More than 2870 vessels visited Port Hedland last financial year, with that figure tipped to rise to 3000 vessels by 2018.