MinRes Onslow transhippers arrive in WA

(Image source: MinRes) Iron transhippers in the Port of Dampier in the Pilbara.
(Image source: MinRes) Iron transhippers in the Port of Dampier in the Pilbara.

Two purpose-built transhippers — MinRes Airlie and MinRes Coolibah — have arrived at Mineral Resources’ (ASX: MIN) Onslow iron project in WA.

MinRes’ transhippers are unique in Australia and form an integral part of the Onslow project which is expected to deliver first ore on ship in mid-2024.

After successful sea trials off Zhoushan port in China, the vessels were transported via a Cosco Shipping heavy lift vessel to the Pilbara coast.

The intricate operation involved the specialised vessel Xin Guang Hua being partially submerged to lift the transhippers — which are 123m long and 36m wide — out of the water and secure them for the voyage.

Upon arrival at the Port of Dampier in the Pilbara, the transhippers were unloaded from the heavy lift vessel, towed to anchorage and linked to a pair of tugs, MinRes Thor and MinRes Odin.

Together, the transhipper barge and tug will operate as one vessel to transport iron ore from the Port of Ashburton to Capesize bulk carriers anchored 40km offshore.

Mineral Resources general manager marine Jeff Weber says the fleet is set to be the largest and most sophisticated transhipping operation in Australia.

“There is no other dedicated marine or resource company that has an Australian-flagged fleet as large as MinRes Marine. That’s quite extraordinary considering two years ago MinRes Marine didn’t even exist,” he said.

“The first two transhippers have arrived at the Port of Ashburton, the third arrives in mid-2024, the fourth by the end of the year and the fifth in early 2025. Those five vessels will get us to an annual capacity of 35mtpa.”

The transhippers have a shallow seven metre draft when loaded with 20kt, which avoids the need to construct a deep-water port and greatly reduces the environmental footprint of Onslow.

MinRes Airlie and MinRes Coolibah will now undergo commissioning at the Port of Ashburton ahead of first ore on ship in mid-2024.

Construction and sea trials of the remaining transhippers will continue in a staged approach.