It’s been a bumper year for the Southern Ports of Western Australia, setting 16 new shipping records in the 12 months to July 2023. Spudomene, the mineral containing Lithium, has seen incredible growth in export volume, reaching 2.4 million tonnes in 22/23, Vs 1.9 m/t the previous year.

Lithium remains a critical mineral, enabling the energy transition and net zero carbon ambitions worldwide. In addition, the ports saw significant increases in commodity exports across multiple categories, including:

  • Coal
  • Fertiliser
  • Grain
  • Silica Sands

The Port of Esperance also accommodated the most vessel visits since 2017.  After measuring the tonnage shipped from WA’s three southern ports of Bunbury, Esperance and Albany, the managing authority was suitably chuffed with the boom in trade.

“Growth and diversification of our trade is important as our state transitions to new commodities, including those that support renewable energy production,” Southern Ports CEO Keith Wilks said. “A record 2.4 million tonnes of spodumene was exported, contributing to our state’s critical battery and minerals trade which will shape our country’s clean energy future. Ports play a critical role in WA’s economy, and we’re proud to be delivering outcomes to support this.”

The Southern Ports gateways of Albany, Bunbury and Esperance collectively handle over 37 million tonnes of cargo annually, promoting trade across bulk commodities, container ships and cruise operations. 

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Rio’s Iron Ore Production Surges Despite Train Derailment

Mining major Rio Tinto has unveiled its report for the last financial quarter with a big windfall from Pilbara iron ore.

Production across its Pilbara Iron operations increased by 3% compared to the previous corresponding quarter, reaching a whopping 83 million tonnes in the three months to the end of June 2023. Rio’s Gudai-Darri greenfield mine in Newman, WA, accounted for a boost in production as it achieved sustained capacity during the term. While planned large-scale maintenance work at the port and a train derailment saw total shipping numbers dip by 1%.

Despite this, Rio expects full-year shipping rates to land at the upper end of the 320 to 335 million tones range.

“Production downgrades during the quarter highlight that we still have much more to do elsewhere as we roll out the Safe Production System to create stability and achieve excellence across our global portfolio,” Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said. 

In addition, the company remains on track to triple its copper production by the end of 2029, as the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine continues to ramp up and remains ahead of schedule. Rio’s Alumina production also increased by 11% in the quarter, supported by the acceleration of the Kitimat smelter in Canada and the stable performance of the business unit across the board. 


The Road to Zero-Carbon Runs Through Australia’s Resources Sector

The Australian government is firmly committed to an emissions reduction of 43% by 2030 and net zero by 2050. In a recent joint statement, Federal Resources Minister Madeline King reiterated support for carbon and methane cuts alongside its trade partners, including:

  • Japan 
  • The Republic of Korea, 
  • The United States 
  • The European Union 

Mainly focussed on the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) supply chain, Minister King acknowledged the role that Australia’s broader resources sector must play.

“Australia’s resources sector will be instrumental in achieving our climate goals as well as those of our resources trade partners,” she said. “Our key LNG trade partners in Asia have planned a key role for Australian LNG in their energy transitions.”

“As one of the world’s top LNG exporters, Australia looks forward to working with our partners in Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US and the EU to ensure LNG supply chains minimise methane emissions,” she added.


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