The capital dredging works for the Channel Risk and Optimisation Project (CROP) at the Port of Port Hedland, have been completed by Pilbara Ports Authority.
The $120 million, three-year project will support trade capacity growth in Port Hedland by optimising channel depth and extending sailing windows, allowing port users to optimise tonnage on their vessels.
The CROP also improves the safe operation of the port by delivering two refuge zones and an emergency passing lane alongside the outer section of the shipping channel.
The dredging included the removal of ‘high spots’ in the channel, which optimises navigable depths to allow deeper drafted vessels to safely navigate along the 42km shipping channel.
Ship sizes have increased significantly since the last major dredging campaign at Port Hedland, with 45 per cent of ships now carrying more than 200,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) compared to less than ten per cent in 2009.
Pilbara Ports Authority General Manager Operations, John Finch, said that the CROP is integral to safe and efficient port operations in Port Hedland.
“The CROP enables Pilbara Ports Authority to safely increase the export capacity from the port while accommodating future growth.
“Industry will also benefit from the CROP as the dredging works have optimised the channel’s navigational depths, allowing port users to increase tonnages on their vessels.
“The next step is the quality assurance and implementation of survey data to ensure the safe transit of bulk carriers through the channel.
“Once this is completed the optimised channel depths will be implemented into the port’s operational systems, which is scheduled for later this month,” Mr Finch said.
The CROP was funded under the Port Improvement Rate (PIR), a temporary levy charged on vessels entering and exiting the Port of Port Hedland to fund capital improvements.
The other PIR projects are the Hedland Tower Integrated Marine Operations Centre, which officially opened in July 2019, and the Channel Marker Replacement Program, which was completed in May 2019.