Chief leaves stable ship

Zoe KeenanGeraldton Guardian
Peter Klein said the port had put a new strategic plan in place to set direction so it was an opportune time to step aside.
Camera IconPeter Klein said the port had put a new strategic plan in place to set direction so it was an opportune time to step aside. Credit: Mid West Ports Authority

After 12 years at the helm of the Mid West Ports Authority, the outgoing chief executive officer said his only regret was not seeing the Oakajee port plans go ahead.

Peter Klein said he would recharge his batteries and explore other career opportunities after announcing his resignation on Wednesday, March 4.

Taking the job in 2006 as the fourth chief executive officer in less than three years, Mr Klein said he knew there would be issues.

“Some steadying of the ship was needed and I think I’ve been able to provide 12 strong years of leadership and stability to the organisation,” he said.

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Mr Klein oversaw a period of growth as the port went through a 250 per cent increase in trade over the years, starting at five million tonnes and hitting its peak in 2015 of 18.5 million tonnes.

“With the iron ore industry taking off, Karara Mining first exported in 2011 and their first export of magnetite — a high-grade iron ore — was in 2012,” he said.

“The other significant development was the $55 million upgrade of the berth-five extension and iron ore ship loading infrastructure.”

On top of that Mr Klein oversaw the $20 million berth-four refurbishment projects, $60 million investment in various other capital and reinvestment projects, and more than $1 billion on port, road and rail investments.

Mr Klein also co-founded the Cruise Geraldton Committee and played an integral role in understanding surge issues the port faced.

This led to the investment in shore tensioning units for cruise ships and other clients.

Mr Klein said his only regret was not seeing the plans for a port at Oakajee put into place.

“There was an enormous amount of work done on the project by the Mid West Ports Authority and State Government. It was very disappointing to see all that good work not deliver an infrastructure outcome,” he said.

Mr Klein said the main thing about Oakajee was the economic drive it would’ve brought to the Mid West region.

“If market conditions are right, then I believe Oakajee could be triggered and I think our region’s at an advantage because of the magnetite iron ore product we provide,” he said.

“There is high demand for this in China because it requires less fuel and coal to produce and lowers pollution.”

Mr Klein said during the Mid West’s boom years between 2008 and 2014, unemployment was low, economic activity was high, housing prices were strong.

“That was achieved without Oakajee so if it was delivered, it would’ve provided an even bigger boost,” he said.

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