New shipping fees at Port Hedland draw ire of iron ore shippers

Peak industry body Shipping Australia has labelled a decision to impose a new A$13,450 fee on every major iron ore export at Port Hedland in Western Australia as a ‘breathtakingly outrageous charge’.

The Pilbara Ports Authority will bring in the export charge in March to fund a WA Government scheme compensating residents in up to 400 dust-affected homes close to Port Hedland, which is the world’s biggest bulk export port.

“It seems that the ship is just an easy target for this breathtakingly outrageous charge,” said Shipping Australia chief executive Melwyn Noronha.

“They’ve looked for the point of least resistance, they are all international ships that come here, so they look for the easy source of that income,” he added.

The increased export levy arrives against a backdrop of rocketing iron ore prices, with the latest rally driving the price of the metal to over $219 per tonne. Australia’s three largest iron ore producers – BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group – have also seen considerable share price growth.

This has led for calls for the original polluting companies to pay for the government compensation scheme towards local dust-affected homeowners.

“This is an exact example of the polluter not paying, but the government allowing them to shift their responsibility and not hold them accountable,” said Port Hedland Progress Association president Jan Ford.