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Pilbara Ports Authority

PPA operates as a Western Australian Government Trading Enterprise, and is governed under the Port Authorities Act 1999 WA (the Act).

PPA was established on 1 July 2014 as a result of the Ports Legislation Amendment Act 2014 consolidating seven of WA’s eight port authorities into four new regional port authorities. The former port authorities of Dampier and Port Hedland successfully amalgamated and formed PPA.

PPA encompasses the Port of Ashburton, the Port of Dampier and the Port of Port Hedland, and future ports of Anketell, Balla Balla and Cape Preston East. PPA will also assume oversight of a number of Shipping and Pilotage Act 1967 (SPA) ports, including the ports of Port Walcott, Cape Preston, Barrow Island, Varanus Island and Onslow from 2016. 

Port of Dampier

Despite being one of the youngest Western Australian ports, the Port of Dampier has been recognised as one of the world’s largest bulk export ports for most of the last 25 years.

It was established in 1963 when Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. (Hamersley Iron) entered into an agreement with the State Government that permitted them to develop an iron more mine at Mount Tom Price and a port in the Dampier Archipelago to facilitate the export of iron ore to world markets.

By 1966, a town site and mine had been constructed at Mount Tom Price and were connected to the Port by heavy gauge railway line. Within the Port, Hamersley Iron initially constructed a general cargo wharf across which construction materials and domestic supplies were traded. This wharf is still operational today with regular imports of petroleum products.

The Parker Point iron ore facility was also constructed and bid farewell to its first shipment of ore on 16 August 1966.

Dampier Salt (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Iron Ore) commenced operations in 1972. In excess of 3.5 million tonnes of salt was exported to the petrochemical industry each year.

Two decades later, the North West Shelf Venture (NWSV) selected Dampier as the best site to establish its world-class Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) processing plant. This resulted in the simultaneous formation of the Dampier Port Authority (DPA). A second jetty was constructed in 1995 to accept Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) vessels and condensate tankers. 
Approximately 6.1 million tonnes of LPG  and 22.3 million tonnes of LNG is exported from the Port of Dampier annually. 

The DPA commenced operations on the 1st March 1989. Since its establishment, the DPA has been responsible for the facilitation of trade within the Port of Dampier and for the overall safety, environmental protection, security and strategic planning of the Port in line with industry demand and economic conditions.

The DPA officially opened the Dampier Bulk Liquids Berth in December 2005, and the first consignment of anhydrous ammonia was exported by the now Yara International in June 2006.

The annual throughput of 668,554  anhydrous ammonia at the port was recorded for the Port to Dampier for the 2016-17 year.  

Approved for development in July 2007, the Pluto LNG Plant was officially commissioned in April 2012 and first gas exported through the Port of Dampier via a 180 kilometre trunkline to the onshore facility in May 2012.

Port of Port Hedland

Discovered in 1863 by Captain Peter Hedland, who was seeking to offload cattle for a nearby station, the Port Hedland Harbour was originally known as Mangrove Harbour.

Towards the end of the century, it became apparent that the pastoral industry in the Eastern Pilbara needed a port. In 1896, construction of the first Port Hedland jetty began. Discovery of gold in nearby Marble Bar drove extension of the jetty in 1908 and completion of a railway to connect Marble Bar and Port Hedland in 1911.

The Port of Port Hedland was mainly used for the import of stores and local primary producer goods and the export of pearl shell, wool, livestock, gold, tin and small amounts of copper until the late 1930’s.

After the Second World War, the Port continued to serve the pastoral industry, but also began to export significant quantities of manganese.

1965 signalled the beginning of the iron ore export industry when Goldsworthy Mining Ltd (now BHP Billiton Iron Ore) dredged an approach channel and turning basin for ships up to 65,000 Dead Weight Tonnes (DWT). The first shipment of iron ore left the Port on 27 May 1966.

Leslie Salt Company (now Dampier Salt Ltd) also commenced development of a solar salt industry and a new land backed wharf (No. 3 Berth) was constructed to cater for salt exports and to improve facilities for importation of fuel and producer products.

Major capital dredging was undertaken to deepen the channel by 2.5 metres in 1986. In conjunction with a computerized under keel clearance program, (the first in an Australian port) this allowed the port to handle ships up to 330m and 260,000 DWT.

Rapid expansion of Port facilities occurred in the early 2000’s to accommodate new and emerging mineral exporters. Fortescue Metals Group and BHP Billiton Iron Ore constructed additional berthing facilities within the Port and Port Hedland Port Authority developed additional berthing facilities during this time, including Berth No. 2, Harriet Point berths and Utah Point Multi-User Bulk Export Facility to meet this exponential growth.

Whilst the Port continues to serve the mining and pastoral industries of the Pilbara today, iron ore continues to be the dominant export product, positioning it as the world’s largest iron ore export port.

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