Following years of intensive studies and consultations, the Western Australian (WA) government has unveiled its preferred design and location for the relocation of the container operations currently in Fremantle. The port, which handles nearly all the container traffic for all of Western Australia is quickly running out of capacity and also occupies prime real estate which official highlight could be better used for the city.
The preferred design and location unveiled by the WA government on November 29 calls for the relocation of the container operations from its current location to Kwinana, approximately 15 miles to the south, and uniting the container operations with the existing bulk cargo operations. Known as the Westport Project the container operations would be adjacent to the existing Outer Harbour, which is one of Australia’s major bulk cargo ports handling grain, petroleum, liquid petroleum gas, alumina, mineral sands, fertilizers, coal, sulfur, iron ore, and other bulk commodities.
The planning for the new container terminal has been ongoing for years with officials highlighting the concept of placing containers in Kwinana was first suggested in 2006. Between 2018 and 2020, they report the Westport Taskforce explored 25 different locations ranging from Fremantle to Cockburn Sound and Bunbury for the new container terminal before selecting the preferred location. They started with 30 different design options, narrowing it first to seven and then three before selecting the design that they believe provides the best opportunities as well as environmental outcomes.
Currently, the port which is located in the Fremantle Inner Harbour in Perth, handles imports and exports of around 800,000 containers with terminals operated by DP World and Patrick. However, this port infrastructure and its surrounding roads are expected to reach capacity within the next two decades, hence the necessity for a new terminal. Long-term planning calls for the port to grow to more than three million containers over the next 50 years.
The new design includes a container terminal adjacent to the shoreline of the current Kwinana Bulk Terminal. Another aspect is a new breakwater to provide enhanced protection to the port and docked ships. The design will allow the new container terminal to handle larger ships than the existing Fremantle terminal and also incorporates redevelopment of the aging Kwinana Bulk Terminal jetty. The new facility would also be supported by an enhanced multi-modal infrastructure with road and rail links.
“A world-class port in Kwinana is critical for our state to remain a global economic and industrial powerhouse for decades to come,” said WA Premier Roger Cook. “Through this design, we can ensure WA can continue to meet trade demand long into the future while strengthening our supply lines.”
The move to relocate Fremantle Port is also expected to unlock around 260 hectares of prime inner urban land in Fremantle. The state government has indicated it wants to transform the space into a “vibrant precinct” to cater to WA’s growing population. One proposal is to establish a public space and residential facilities. Fremantle Port would continue to be a working port for cruise ships, visiting naval vessels, and recreational craft.
The next step is the development of a project business case report, scheduled to be finalized by mid-2024. Previously the budget for the project was set at A$4 billion (US$2.7 billion) but government officials said that was pre-pandemic and they expect to determine the timeline and cost for the new terminal based in the next phase of the project.