Direct shipping into Pilbara ports is gaining momentum, with the arrival of the fourth shipping service into Port Hedland since November 2020.

The Swire Shipping managed vessel MV Souni carried 30 containers of materials and equipment for mining and construction projects.

Pilbara Ports Authority Landside Operations Manager Jon Giles said the direct shipping services were connecting the Pilbara with ports across Asia, eliminating the need for cargo to pass through other port facilities.

“Pilbara businesses have traditionally relied on goods being trucked from the Port of Fremantle or overland from the eastern states, which attracted a significant cost in terms of logistics and time,” Mr Giles said.

“Direct shipping translates into lower costs for Pilbara businesses and consumers, and also benefits the State and the nation by generating more inbound and outbound freight opportunities. It also contributes to a reduction in road traffic, road maintenance costs, emissions and noise pollution.”

To attract and facilitate direct shipping, PPA has invested in biosecurity infrastructure, including inspection, treatment and wash bay facilities. The availability of improved biosecurity facilities is expected to encourage further growth in direct shipping to Pilbara ports.

The new Swire Shipping service will operate two separate schedules: the first will serve Singapore, Darwin and Port Hedland on a dedicated vessel, while the second will deliver containers to Dampier ex-Singapore on a separate slot charter arrangement. Both will operate on a 20-day frequency.

Swire Shipping’s Commercial Manager of Mining and Resources Stephen Westfield said the new direct service aims to improve shipping in North Western Australia from a cost, sustainability, safety and community involvement perspective.

“These new direct connections enable customers to better plan their inventory, manage their supply chains, and reach their carbon-neutral goals up to 2040,” Mr Westfield said.

“It is estimated that each container shipped direct into the Pilbara versus via Fremantle will save roughly two tonnes of carbon. We look forward to working with our mining and resource customers to achieve carbon reduction goals.”

The first direct shipping vessel to arrive at the Port of Port Hedland was the MV Darwin Trader, which arrived in November 2020, carrying containers, pipe and loose cargo.

Since the MV Darwin Trader’s first direct shipping cargo, there have been a further nine ANL shipments into Port Hedland and Maersk’s first shipment of Bridgestone tyres arrived into the port in January 2021.

The first direct shipping to the Port of Dampier was a Bengal Tiger Lines vessel, MCP Graz, in February. A Sea Swift service also imports and exports general cargo.