In November 2021, the West Australian state government committed AUD 117 million towards two hydrogen hub proposals: one in Oakajee on the midwest coast of the state, and the other in the Pilbara on the northwest coast. Last December, we reported that a trilateral initiative with Germany and the Port of Rotterdam was launched to speed up development of the Oakajee hub. In recent news, land allocations to significant ammonia energy players in the Pilbara have kick-started progress on the hub there.
FFI, Yara, Hexagon and Perdaman
The Maitland Strategic Industrial Area is a greenfield site located west of Karratha. This May, the West Australian state government has allocated land in the area to four organisations:
- Yara, who are developing Project Yuri just 40km away at their existing ammonia & fertilisers production facility.
- Fortescue Future Industries, who were also allocated land in the Oakajee hub. This year, FFI has also been allocated land in two nearby Strategic Industrial Areas (Boodarie and Ashburton North) for ammonia production.
- Hexagon Energy Materials, who are developing the WAH2 Blue Hydrogen Project (currently in the pre-feasibility stage).
- and Perdaman, who will use the land to construct a solar farm & transmission infrastructure to help power their under-construction Pilbara Urea Project on the Burrup Peninsula.
The approval of land allocation for Maitland SIA will help transform the greenfield site into a globally competitive, multi-product industrial precinct. Land allocated in the Maitland SIA will enable a range of projects, including ammonia, hydrogen and renewable energy, which will aim to decarbonise emissions on the Burrup Peninsula. This is exciting news for the Pilbara, and in particular for Karratha and Dampier, as these projects will create a pipeline of local jobs for years to come…[the] Government is prompting early and ongoing engagement with Traditional Owners through the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation as the recognised custodians of the land.WA Deputy Premier & State Development, Jobs and Trade Minister Roger Cook in the state government’s official press release, 15 May 2023
Plans for the Pilbara hub also include the establishment of a Clean Energy Training and Research Institute to develop the local skills & expertise required for these projects. While ammonia production for export is a priority for most projects in the area, investigations into the feasibility of Pilbara ports like Dampier and Hedland to act as key ammonia bunkering locations is well underway. A recent report led by the GMF suggests maritime ammonia fuel could begin powering vessels on the Pilbara-East Asia iron ore transport routes as early as 2028.