Fortescue wins second towage licence for Australia's iron ore port


Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary Pilbara Marine has secured a tender with Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) to operate a second towage service at Port Hedland iron ore export terminal in Australia.

Under the licence, Pilbara Marine will be responsible for construction of marine and landside facilities to develop a tug haven behind Anderson Point berths one to three.

For this, the company will lease Crown land within the port area.

The company will begin its operations with an initial fleet of nine tugs.

For an initial period of 15 years, the company will also provide towage services, which are expected to start by 2019.

"Port customers will benefit from increased options in tug services and the availability of services to meet future demand."

Fortescue Metals Group CEO Power said: "The introduction of choice and competition through the award of a second licence will benefit all users of the port, and will ensure Fortescue can provide long-term, sustainable towage services crucial to meeting the demands of our customers.

"We look forward to working with the PPA and others to finalise arrangements that will safely deliver flexibility, efficiency and value."

Fortescue said that the licence and tug facilities will provide additional capacity.

A total of $200m will be spent on developing the infrastructure and operating vessels.

Western Australian Minister for Transport Dean Nalder said: "There will be job opportunities during construction of the new tug haven, as well as further employment with the operation and maintenance of extra tug infrastructure.

"Port customers will benefit from increased options in tug services and the availability of services to meet future demand."

In 2014-15, Port Hedland shipped more than 446 million tonnes of bulk cargo.

At present, BHP Billiton (Towage Services) has a non-exclusive licence for towage services at the port and operates 18 tugs.