Mining major BHP Billiton has selected Rivtow Marine to operate its 14-vessel tugboat fleet in Port Hedland in Australia.

The company awarded the contract after conducting a competitive tender process for its largest tugboat fleet based on safety, capability and cost-effectiveness criteria.

BHP Billiton iron ore president Jimmy Wilson said: "Rivtow has been awarded the contract to operate the 14 tugs, in addition to the four tugs it currently operates in the port, and will now operate BHP Billiton’s entire towage fleet in Port Hedland."

"BHP Billiton has made a significant investment in the towage service capability in the port."

"BHP Billiton has made a significant investment in the towage service capability in the port.

"Construction on a new tug harbour at Hunt Point will commence shortly and we have purchased six new tugs which will join the fleet in the coming 12 months."

BHP also developed additional training such as the tug master advanced training programmes for tugboat operators and added four new rotor tugs and moorings.

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In July, BHP announced a $240m approval to purchase six additional tugs and construct a new eight-pen tug harbour at Hunt Point in Port Hedland.

The investment also included the modernisation of workshop facilities, operational and service berths, as well as two small boat moorings located at the existing Nelson Point tug harbour.