Free Eyre secures Port Spencer land and major project status from Centrex

GRAIN PORT: An artist's rendition of the grain-only deep sea port at Port Spencer.
GRAIN PORT: An artist's rendition of the grain-only deep sea port at Port Spencer.

FREE Eyre Limited is confident its planned Port Spencer project will take pressure off the Eyre Peninsula road network after last week's closure of the rail line, by taking thousands of truck movements off the roads as early as 2020/21.

The company this week settled the purchase of land for the port from Centrex Metals for $1.4 million and announced the establishment of its daughter company Peninsula Ports.

Peninsula Ports has now taken over the existing major project status approvals given by the state government to develop the proposed deep sea port at Port Spencer, about 25 kilometres north of Tumby Bay.

The sale was first announced on December 31, 2018, as Centrex began selling its iron ore assets on the Eyre Peninsula.

Port Spencer has been redesigned by FREE Eyre as a grain-only deep sea port, to receive, store and export up to one million tonnes of grain.

FREE Eyre and Peninsula Ports are working on changing approvals with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure due to the modular design for their proposed 620-metre jetty.

FREE Eyre chief executive officer Mark Rodda said the company hoped the changes would be approved in the next three months and was aiming to have the port running by the 2020/21 harvest season.

"It's still our target, we're going very hard to get there.

"If we miss next harvest, that is $25 million not in the pockets of Eyre Peninsula farmers."

FREE Eyre and Peninsula Ports have costed the project at between $140 to $180 million, which will be privately funded through a combination of commercial debt and equity.

Mr Rodda said the company had secured some capital from an investor, who wanted to be bought out of the company over a 10-year period, allowing FREE Eyre to reinvest in the company.

The company is also in the process of negotiating with contractors to build the port.

Mr Rodda said the next step would be to begin community consultation, to assure the public the environmental impact would be low.

"We're aiming for a million tonnes of grain to be exported every year, and grain boats on average hold about 50,000 tonnes of grain....that's 20 boats a year, and it shouldn't take more than two days for ships to be loaded."