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Lucky Bay
South Australia
Population 80 (2006 census)
Postcode(s) 5602
Location 198 km (123 mi) NW of Adelaide
LGA(s) District Council of Franklin Harbour

Lucky Bay is a locality in the District Council of Franklin Harbour, on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. It is a terminus for SeaSA's Spencer Gulf passenger ferry and is also earmarked for future iron ore exports. Lucky Bay is located immediately north-east of the Franklin Harbour wetlands. Its adjacent waters lie within the outer boundary of the Franklin Harbor Marine Park. A ferry service crossing Spencer Gulf from Lucky Bay to Wallaroo commenced in 2006, and the dirt road connecting Lucky Bay with the Lincoln Highways was finally sealed in 2008. As of 2015, harbor expansion works are underway to facilitate future iron ore exports.

Residential and recreational use

A modest strip of coastal homes or 'shacks' extends along the coast to the north-east of the ferry terminal. Several of these are available to rent. Beach-launching boat access exists for residents and holiday-makers. The adjacent waters are popular among fishermen, with snapper being one of the region's prized catches.

Ferry service

The development of a ferry terminal at Lucky Bay was approved by South Australian planning minister Paul Holloway in November 2005. The ferry service commenced in December 2006 and has been an economic boon to the nearby township of Cowell.

The passenger ferry is operated by SeaSA Ltd and transports vehicles and passengers across Spencer Gulf between Lucky Bay and Wallaroo. The ferry service received an Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) award in 2006 "for its potential to save more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually from road traffic by providing a cross-Gulf alternative to the lengthy round-Gulf car trip."

Service was suspended in September 2014 to allow the expansion of the harbor's basin and substantial vegetation clearance and earthworks to commence. The expanded harbor is intended to facilitate the future transshipment of iron ore to a floating loading platform in Spencer Gulf. The ferry service resumed in October 2016.

Harbor expansion (2011-2016)

Between 2011 and 2016 plans to expand the Lucky Bay passenger ferry terminal to facilitate new transshipment facilities were proposed and approved. The first of these was a proposal to accommodate shipments of iron ore, followed by a plan to export wheat in 2016. The Australian Government contributed $2.2 million to the project via the Regional Development Australia's Regional Development Fund.

Iron ore transshipment

In April 2011 a proposal to export iron ore from Lucky Bay received Crown-sponsored development status from the Government of South Australia, under Section 49 of the state's Development Act 1993. As a result, development proposal documentation was withdrawn from the general public after a three-week open period calling for submissions.

One of the responsible parties, Ironclad Mining had previously sought government approval to haul ore from Wilcherry Hill via road to a rail siding at Lincoln Gap near Whyalla. From there it was to be transported to Port Adelaide by rail, then loaded onto ships using existing infrastructure there. This export corridor was approved by the Federal government on 23 September 2011, under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. A week later, Ironclad Mining lodged a formal Development Application to expand the existing existing ferry terminal at Lucky Bay and export iron ore from there.

On 5 April 2012, the Lucky Bay proposal was approved by Robert Kleeman, acting as a delegate for the South Australian Minister for Planning. The project's proponents continued to refine the design of the facility, and lodged several amendments to the proposal the following year, including plans to add a buffer storage facility (iron ore stockpiles) and relocate transshipping points closer to shore.

On 3 December 2013, the revised proposal which included multiple cost-saving variations received State Government development approval. The project involves the following entities: SeaSA, Masterplan, Ironclad Mining Ltd and the District Council of Franklin Harbour. While the project claims to offer a Common User Export Facility, there is currently only one future user of the port, Ironclad Mining Ltd.

Ironclad Mining claims that delays associated with project amendments and approvals cost the company approximately $6 million.

The proposed export plan includes:

  • A road freight corridor from the Wilcherry Hill iron ore mine via Cowell
  • An expanded Lucky Bay harbor
  • Iron ore stockpile with 24-hour operation
  • Waterfront barge-loading facility
  • Transshipment to bulk carriers, anchored within the Franklin Harbor Marine Park

Wheat transshipment

In early 2016, a proposal to construct facilities to support the transshipment of wheat was considered and approved by the Development Assessment Commission. In July 2016, the port's owners, Spencer Gulf Trust, announced that it expected the new facilities to be operable for the 2017 harvest.

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