Opening its coffers, BHP Billiton is spending $US301 million to replace two shiploaders at its Nelson Point port operations in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The company said investing in the shiploaders will increase the reliability of its inner harbour port facilities.

Updating its shiploaders will lift the company’s loading capacity by 5000 tonnes an hour.

Each shiploader has a loading capacity of 12,500 tonnes per hour.

The existing shiploaders are more than 40 years old and currently load iron ore at a rate of approximately 10,000 tonnes per hour.

“This investment will also create additional port capacity that can be utilised as a series of

debottlenecking initiatives increase the capacity of our Western Australia Iron Ore supply

chain towards 270 million tonnes per annum (100% basis), at a low capital cost,” BHP said.

Commissioning of the two replacement shiploaders is scheduled for the second half of next year.

“This is an important investment that is consistent with our commitment to maximise the capacity of the Western Australia Iron Ore inner harbour and deliver substantial value to shareholders and other stakeholders,” BHP Billiton Iron Ore President, Jimmy Wilson said.

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