Deal paves way for port
The proposed Anketell Port development has gained momentum after the State Government settled a $20 million native title agreement with the Ngarluma people.
Attending the official signing at Cleaverville on Wednesday, Premier Colin Barnett said he was confident the development would start "sooner than we think".
The proposed multi-user iron ore port will be located 30km east of Karratha, and have an export capacity of 350 million tonnes a year.
Mr Barnett said he believed the Government was closer to securing private investment after a recent trip to China, where he met representatives from the State-owned steel giant Baosteel.
"Baosteel is at present building a steelworks … and they are relying on iron ore from Anketell to be the feedstock for that," he said.
"I was very encouraged, more encouraged than I expected to be."
For the use of 4300ha of traditional Ngarluma land, Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation will receive $4 million up front.
The remaining $16 million paid over nine years.
NAC chief executive Paul Stenson said the settlement would lead to the creation of jobs for the Ngarluma people, as well as provide community infrastructure.
Perhaps the most significant win for the Ngarluma people was their successful negotiation to keep development off Dixon Island.
The island was included in Australian Premium Iron's port plan, which already had Environmental Protection Authority approval.
For heritage reasons, the State Government negotiated the outcome in favour of traditional owners and API amended its plan.
NAC chairman Warren Walker said he was relieved the culturally significant place would remain undeveloped.
"There are a lot of stories about Dixon Island in our songs and culture," he said.
"So we said it had to be a no-go zone."
Former Minister for Regional Development and Lands Brendon Grylls worked with Mr Walker and other Ngarluma representatives to reach the agreement and said he was happy with the outcome.
"We saw further up the coast to the north with the Browse project, there was a lot of effort put into that which didn't end up anywhere," he said.
"So I'm hoping that the effort that has been put into this project ends up in a good space."
Karratha Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive John Lally said the proposed multi-user port would open export possibilities to second and third-tier mining companies.
"They will develop the deposits that the big boys don't bother with," he said. "They also tend to deal with local businesses, so it helps local industry."
Mr Barnett forecast that Anketell would be the last new major port in the Pilbara.
"There might be some expansions of ports, but I don't think there will be a major new one - this will be it."
He said he expected to see the project progress over the next 18 months.
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