The South Australian Labor party plans to develop at deep-water port on Eyre Peninsula within four years and has pledged $150 million to create an SA Ports Authority if re-elected.

ABC news reports the total cost of the project is estimated at up to $700 million, with the government’s contribution essentially a start-up investment to enable the new authority to attract the necessary loan of more than $500 million from the banks.

The new port will create 400 construction and 100 ongoing jobs, boosting exports and unlocking thousands of more jobs in industries such as mining and agriculture.

It will drive extra competition to benefit farmers and exporters, as well as connect many mining projects to the world, such as Iron Road’s Central Iron Ore Project.

Labor’s $150 million equity injection will allow the new Authority to borrow more than $500 million to develop the new port, which would be capable of hosting cape-sized vessels.

The Authority, which will be established as a public non-financial corporation, will first test the market through an Expression of Interest seeking private sector involvement in planning projects and identifying appropriate locations.

In addition to overseeing the funding and development of a new port, the Authority will also be tasked with investigating opportunities to help fast-track private sector port proposals across the state.

Proposals from the private sector currently include the ICAM/Duxton – Sea Transport Lucky Bay Project; Iron Road’s Cape Hardy Port; and a standalone port at Decres Bay.

Even private facilities, such as Whyalla’s port, will be able to seek assistance through the Authority.

Grain farmers and the state’s mining sector have both welcomed the planned development, saying another Spencer Gulf port is long overdue.

SA Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive, Rebecca Knol, said, “Currently a third of South Australia’s exports are generated by the resource sector…we have an impending bottleneck so the announcement today unlocks our export capabilities..

“Now the work begins on where the ideal location is for the port.”

Free Eyre, a collection of hundreds of Eyre Peninsula grain farmers, said it had been preparing to announce its own port plan.

“We don’t generally rely on government to help us out, we’re a private business owned by farmers,” Chief Executive, Mark Rodda, said.

“To think we can get some support from the government for our particular project is a great shot in the arm.”

The $150 million forms part of Labor’s $2 billion infrastructure pledge — the most expensive promise of the election campaign so far.

Premier, Jay Weatherill, said, “The free market hasn’t delivered the port we need for South Australia so the government is stepping up.

“We want to get in there and make this happen, rather than just hope it will happen.

“The creation of that new port will create 400 jobs in the construction phase, 100 jobs ongoing in an operation phase, and unlock thousands of jobs in the mining and agricultural sectors.

“We do have spare capital which we can apply to this. The rest will be done in borrowings.”

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