Study launched to investigate Pilbara freight options

Alicia PereraPilbara News
More flight connections to Asia are a focus of a new study into freight opportunities in the Pilbara.
Camera IconMore flight connections to Asia are a focus of a new study into freight opportunities in the Pilbara. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

A new study is investigating ways the Pilbara’s high freight costs can be brought down through creating better connections between the region and outside world.

The Pilbara Freight Demand Analysis, which is being driven by the City of Karratha in response to concerns raised by Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce members, is looking into regional air, sea and road freight opportunities to tackle chronic issues faced by local businesses including high costs, uncertainty and limited scalability.

Karratha Mayor Peter Long said currently the majority of freight to and from Karratha was processed through various distribution channels in Perth.

“Industry has shown a high degree of interest and demand for more efficient and affordable freight options, including the potential of maritime and aviation routes,” he said.

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“Working closely with industry stakeholders and government, the City is keen to better understand the demand for freight into the Pilbara, with a view of facilitating improvements in efficiency and reducing costs to support businesses.”

KDCCI chief executive Kylah Morrison said freight costs in the Pilbara put local businesses at a disadvantage when competing for major contracts.

“The cost of freight is making them not as cost-competitive as businesses from outside the region,” she said.

“When we’re talking about supporting local (businesses) and how do we build local capability, at the end of the day it still comes down to price and the bottom line.”

Australian Floating Decks owner Paul Toussaint-Jackson has been brought in as a consultant and his work has included two local business workshops held in Karratha last week, attended by at least 20 businesses, and a survey circulated around the region.

He said the North West stood out as the only corner of Australia lacking sufficient international connections, despite the region’s immense industry.

“The Pilbara is close to Asia and it should have much greater connectivity to Asia than it does,” he said.

“It has fantastic connectivity to Asia in terms of exports, of iron ore and commodities ... but the inwards supply chain, which is much smaller but still critical, and potentially quite significant in terms of supporting industry and townships, should have in it at least some aspects some genuine connections to Asia.”

A report summarising the study’s findings is due to be submitted to the City of Karratha for further analysis by mid January.

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