Giants fund $2b study

PROSPECTS for a major new iron ore port in Western Australia improved significantly yesterday with news of a study funded by Korean steel and Japanese manufacturing giants.
A consortium led by iron ore hopeful Murchison Metals and including one of the world’s largest steel companies, Posco of Korea, as well as Mitsubishi and logistics giant Toll Holdings, will study the feasibility of a $1.6-2 billion port and rail facilities at Oakajee, 25km north of Geraldton in WA’s mid-west. The study is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2007. One crucial issue is whether Oakajee is suitable for handling Cape-sized ships – the preferred size for the iron ore industry. The Port of Geraldton was recently deepened through a extensive dredging program but is still unable to handle ships bigger than Panamax.