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Mid West Port Authority in strong position to face challenges of the future according to CEO Damian Tully

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
MWPA chief executive Damian Tully says the port is well positioned heading into the future.
Camera IconMWPA chief executive Damian Tully says the port is well positioned heading into the future. Credit: Lachlan Allen

Just under five months into his role as chief executive of the Mid West Ports Authority, Damian Tully says the port is well positioned to face challenges such as a decreasing iron ore price.

Mr Tully was named CEO back in March, after acting in the role for about 12 months.

He said his appointment to a permanent position had given the port certainty for the future.

“The change has really given certainties to not only myself but also the rest of the organisation, to be able to provide that direction and look to the future as to the way that we’re operating.”

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While the price of iron ore has fallen 26 per cent in the past six months to $US105/t, Mr Tully said the impact on the port has been minimal.

“So we have seen a decrease in iron ore exports over the last couple of years and that’s to a minor level. A lot of it’s been associated with Mt Gibson mine going into care and maintenance.”

Mr Tully said other companies coming online in that time such as Fenix, GWR and CUFE had helped make up for that drop.

“Part of the ports strategy is to try and diversify our products so that it doesn’t matter if the iron ore goes up or down, we should be still seeing enough other products through the port in other matters,” he said.

“I suppose that’s a big part of our port maximisation project, it’s being able to facilitate those other projects, whether it’s mineral sands or silica sands and other different types of products.”

Mr Tully has earmarked the $332 million expansion, which is expected to increase trade from 15 million to 25 million tonnes per annum by 2026, as a game-changer for the port.

“That will be a bit of a hallmark over the next four years through to construction,” he said.

Geraldton will welcome the return of cruise ships in October when government restrictions on the vessels lift.

“We’re making all preparations that we can for those cruise ships, prior to the COVID, we were seeing up to 19 cruise ships visiting Geraldton a year,” Mr Tully said.

“And we are keen to help facilitate those wherever we can, with the right plans in place to ensure that it’s done safely.”

Mr Tully said the port has come through challenges including a cyclone, COVID and trade shortages in the past year and was looking towards the future.

“We’re seeing trade pick up over the last three years now, which has been fantastic. We’ve kicked a number of goals with a number of big projects completed. So it’s an exciting time, there’s a lot happening around the port,” he said.

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