Local export to benefit pastoralists

Cally DupeNorth West Telegraph

Pilbara pastoralists hope to save up to $100 per head next year by exporting locally instead of trucking cattle to Perth or Broome.

A ship loaded with cattle will leave Port Hedland in March, the region’s first pastoral export since the end of the 2012-13 financial year.

Anna Plains Station manager David Stoate said exporting locally would save pastoralists currently being “killed” by the cost of freight. “It costs us about $80 or $90 per head to transport to Broome, compared to $5 or $10 to go from a port up here (in the Pilbara),” he said.

His station, on the edge of the Kimberley and Pilbara, exports up to 6000 head per year from Broome and Perth.

In the port of Port Hedland’s last shipment of cattle, hasn’t shipped cattle since the 2012-13 financial year when 8300 head set sail for the Middle East.

Authorities hope the town will ship 65,000-100,000 head within the next decade. Emu Creek Station manager Darryl Penny said exporting from Port Hedland instead of Perth would halve his freight costs.

Mr Penny also said it was not uncommon for cattle to lose about 27kg on the journey to Perth, which “at $3 per kilo was almost $90 per beast”.

“The less time they can spend on the truck the better — it will save us about $40 or $50 in weight because it’s half the distance,” he said.

“It will save more in freight costs because it is a long drive to Perth. It will take a lot off the bottom line.”

Emu Creek Station exports about 400 head a year from Perth.

Pilbara Ports Authority said it would construct a moveable loading ramp which could be used on all three public berths but its ultimate goal was for livestock exports to be transported to the proposed Lumsden Point facility.

Speaking to guests at the recent New Pilbara Conference, Pilbara Ports Authority development and trade general Lyle Banks said the report indicated within 10 years there could be between 65,000 and 100,000 head exported from the town. “We believe that by helping the local industry they are going to save costs and transport, pastoralists will get better value for the exports themselves,” he said.

“Through that (the report), they indicated that Port Hedland, if we were to develop infrastructure — not just the port but other areas — then potentially within 10 years we will get 65,000-100,000 head of cattle.”

Department of Agriculture and Food Northern Beef Futures manager Manus Stockdale said the port’s decision to export from Hedland came after a State Government report, which revealed a potential for growth within the Pilbara.

“A Northern Beef Infrastructure Review report... investigated a range of potential growth scenarios in order to determine future infrastructure requirements by modelling of future throughputs for the Port Hedland port,” he said.

“(The report) suggested there is potential for significant future throughput increases for Port Hedland port if commercial drivers are in place... driven by regional supply, scheduling, logistics and trade preferences.”

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