Sat 25 Oct Port Esperance
Each Saturday afternoon there's a public bus tour of the port. The coach is owned by the Junior Fire Fighters (who knew that was a thing?) and the commentary done by a member of Apex. Both charities are paid by the port for doing it, plus our donations. They're not officially allowed to charge without a taxi licence.
Rail and Shipping
(O.K, I only included the trains for Jono, but they're pretty special) -
Mineral Resources Iron ore trains from the mine at the wonderfully named Koolyanobbing, - 14,000tonne trains,1.8km long, with 2 locos pulling and 2 pushing. Each of these locos are V16 turbos, 8,000hp. An oil change for just one of these takes 1,800 litres! They are belly-dumping wagons, so drop their 70-80tonne loads in about 2 mins as the train keeps moving at 4km/hr. There are fans running to keep the dust inside to protect Esperance's pristine beaches. The whole place is impressively clean. If it doesn't rain for a week they hose down the acres of buildings, and settle out the waste water.
The ore ships are the biggest. Most of the port is dredged to 14 metres, but the ore area is 24 metres. The ships drop 7m during loading. They load them to the maximum that the receiving port, usually in China can handle. They have only done one to capacity, as it was going to a deepwater port in Japan.
Because these ships are brought in and turned in a small area, they need the most powerful tugs in the world too. (There are bigger ships to move elsewhere, but not to spin around) They have 2 x 3m propellors that can swivel 360° and 5,600hp to drive them. If you pushed the little joystick full ahead with no boat in front you'd drive your tug to the bottom.
The tug company is paid $35k to handle each iron ore ship. Their most recent tug cost them $A6.5M. It is the same family who have had the tug business since an ex-fisherman started it with one tug in the 60's.
Though mines come and go as the price goes up and down, the port has exported an average $A1M /day value of nickel every day since 1965. No, look at that again, that's a big deal, that's 50 yrs @ $A1M/day!!! (I'm sorry, I try and use exclaim marks judiciously, but this was really impressive.
With bulk shipping your customer needs to pay 90% of the value of the cargo before loading starts, as the shipping company doesn't want to be chasing money once it's ship is full. The port charges the ore ships $A28.5k/day to be at the wharf, plus the tow fee, plus plus plus…
And that's only one commodity.
Other exports are: Spodumene to make Lithium batteries.
Woodchips are relatively new, like 3-4yrs.
Grain: wheat, oats, peas, canola, linseed etc etc
(So with the grain pigeons are a major nuisance. The guttering of the grain warehouses (bins) corroded out from all the droppings, so wasn't replaced. They put a little patch of waste grain down in front of a great gizmo that has 4 barrels which fires a net out by air pressure to cover the pigeons, which are then euthanised..)
Imports: Petrol/Diesel. Esperance is Shell's biggest refined fuel receiver in Australia. Fuel from here supplies the wheatbelt, the mines (including Kalgoorlie).
Fertiliser, sulphur to the nickel mines, machinery.The biggest employer too, yes the whole coachload of us were impressed.