The South Australian Government has approved the development of Port Augusta Operations’ (PAO) new export port facility on the Upper Spencer Gulf to service present and future iron ore projects.

Planned to be built on the site of former Port Augusta power stations, the new Port Playford facility will provide export shipping services to existing and future mining operations and projects in the North Gawler, Curnamona and Braemar iron ore regions.

South Australian Minister for Planning Vickie Chapman said PAO plans to invest more than A$100m ($77.1m) for the development of the site, over the next 18 months.

Chapman added: “This development will bolster the local economy and create a pipeline of growth opportunity for Port Augusta.

“There is scope for this site to accommodate a range of commodities and activities, including mineral processing.”

The port is expected to create more than 100 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs once commissioned.

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PAO managing director Shaun Shan said: “The economic benefits of this development are already materialising with the signing of legally binding commitments with key customers.

“Stage 1 of this project has already received more demand enquiries than its proposed capacity, which is fantastic news for our company and South Australia”

“The development strongly aligns with key state, regional and local development directions and will unlock significant economic benefit within Port Augusta and across regional South Australia.”

PAO plans to commence construction on the port facility in mid-2021 while the first shipment from the port is planned to start in late 2022.

Last year, Havilah Resources has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PAO to use the iron ore port and transhipment facility.

Havilah owns three Braemar Formation iron ore discoveries: Maldorky, Grants and Grants Basin.