Port Hedland is a national treasure with a great story tell — from its turtles to its tankers — PHIC chief executive Kirsty Danby told a major conference last month.

Addressing the Hedland Economic and Resources Forum, Kirsty said there was much to celebrate about Port Hedland as it enters a sustained period of growth and diversification.

The two-day HERF conference had as its theme Unlocking Port Hedland’s Potential.

“Plans are well under way to attract new businesses and to diversify the economic base of Port Hedland,” Kirsty said.

“The West End Maritime Precinct is tipped to be a catalyst for that change as it becomes the home to commercial and leisure businesses, education and training facilities and cultural attractions.

“Add to this the Spoilbank Marina and the Town’s Economic and Tourism strategy.

“Of course, this will be underpinned by the mining sector and its exports.

“That’s why PHIC’s main objective continues to be to create the best environment possible to enable Port growth.”

WA and Port Hedland were keenly aware of the importance of mining, Kirsty said, with royalties paid by the resources sector contributing significantly to the State’s finances and budget surplus.

The day before Kirsty’s address, new figures revealed State Government revenue was up almost $3.7 billion year-on-year for the nine months to the end of March, thanks in large part to iron ore royalties.

But iron ore was not the only commodity exported through the port.

PHIC members Mineral Resources and Pilbara Minerals export lithium, crucial for batteries that will power the world’s future fleet of electric vehicles, and Consolidated Minerals exports manganese.

Kirsty recapped the PHIC-commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting report, The Economic Importance of the Port of Port Hedland, which showed that the port and its supply chain supported one in every 12 jobs in WA in 2018/19 and 44 per cent of all jobs in Port Hedland — and pumped billions of dollars into the local, State, and national economies.

“PHIC is the only industry collective in Port Hedland and operates with a focus only on Port Hedland,” Kirsty said. “Every conversation we have is about Port Hedland.

“We all have a part to play to promote the many positive aspects of Port Hedland – from our turtles to our tankers.

“The more we highlight Port Hedland for all it has to offer, the more we encourage tourists to visit, workers to live and businesses to establish here.

“Because there is even more to Port Hedland than our mining and economic might.

“Now is the time to champion the town as it develops plans for business diversification, promotes its tourism potential and lays the groundwork for the next stage of growth.

“There are few places in the world where sites of environmental significance are accessible to the general public.

“Port Hedland’s flatback turtle monitoring program is internationally recognised — and yet the nesting turtles are within walking distance of Port Hedland homes and within sight of the port.

“Visitors to town have so many unique tour experiences on offer – the harbour tours, visiting BHP and FMG port operations, learning about local Aboriginal culture and heritage.

“As one of those featured in our Humans of Hedland said: “Whatever you want to be in life, Port Hedland will allow you to be. “If you are a positive person, ready to have a go, you can succeed here.”

And that’s Port Hedland: the town, its industry, its businesses and its people stand ready and willing to deliver on its potential.

“What else would you expect from a national treasure.”