Anglo-Australian multinational mining company BHP Billiton has announced that it will spend $240m to buy new tugs and tug harbour, as part of efforts to expand its tug fleet at Port Hedland.
As part of the investment, BHP Billiton will purchase six additional tugs and construct a new eight pen Tug Harbour at Hunt Point in the Port Hedland.
The company said that the investment will also be used to upgrade workshop facilities, operational and service berths and two small boat moorings at the existing Nelson Point Tug Harbour.
BHP Billiton Iron Ore president Jimmy Wilson: "The project will mitigate the risk of a channel blockage by ensuring the continued safe escort of vessels in and out of the Port Hedland Inner Harbour.
"This project will enable BHP Billiton to safely meet projected demand for tug services and effectively manage shipping risk for all users of the Port Hedland Port."
The new eight pen Tug Harbour will be an enhanced version compared to previous designs, as the facility requires minimal dredging and marine-based infrastructure, with reduced environmental and visual impact.
The company expects to begin earthworks in December this year with construction expected to be complete in the September 2016.
Nearly 200 jobs are expected to be created for this project in Port Hedland during construction. Currently, BHP provides tug services for all users of Port Hedland.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Port Hedland operator is currently considering options to issue a second tug licence to parties to work alongside BHP.