September 4, 2020 — BHP, a leading global resource company, has announced it is withdrawing permit applications for a proposed potash export facility at the Port of Grays Harbor’s Terminal 3 in Hoquiam, Washington, citing continuous local stakeholder concerns and ongoing regulatory hurdles with no resolution or permit completion timeline in sight. BHP had been working with the Port and community stakeholders on the proposed project at Terminal 3 since 2015.
The company plans to pursue development at Fraser Surrey Docks in British Columbia, as well as conducting detailed due diligence on other shortlisted terminals on the northwest coast of North America.
“While we are incredibly disappointed to lose this significant opportunity not just for our community, but for our state and our nation, I am grateful to BHP for the lessons we have learned about what community engagement and the environmental permitting process can and should look like,” shared Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson. “This was our project to lose and unfortunately, as I have said many times in the past, time kills deals. For rural economic development to thrive, we have to be able to provide prospective investors and employers with clearly defined requirements along with timelines for the path forward. After five years, we collectively were not able to do that for the BHP project.”
Drawn to Terminal 3 by its rail-served industrial acreage with deep-water access, BHP exercised an option to lease with the Port in June 2019 after conducting several years of due diligence on the site including geotechnical, environmental, cultural and other site investigations pertinent to their proposed project. BHP held its first public open house in September 2017 and had been actively engaged with local stakeholders, regulators, businesses and the Quinault Indian Nation since then.
“Our rail served, deep-water marine-industrial sites remain a major asset for economic growth and the Port of Grays Harbor will continue to pursue opportunities to attract partners wanting to utilize our infrastructure and willing to invest in and be a partner in our community,” stated Port of Grays Harbor Commission President Stan Pinnick. “We will also look to work with our tribal leaders and state and federal elected officials to help improve the current permitting processes so that businesses like BHP, and REG and Contanda before them, don’t have to waste multiple years and millions of dollars on a process that has no end.”
“My predecessor on the Commission, Chuck Caldwell, impressed upon me what a great opportunity the BHP potash export facility was for Grays Harbor. In my time on the Commission I have confirmed that belief. It would have been a game changer, not only for our community, but also at the state and national level. As Director Nelson told me early on, ‘Don’t let the ups and downs of the job overwhelm you. Stay focused on the big picture and the unique attributes the Harbor has to offer prospective investors.’ This announcement is testing my internal fortitude to stay focused and positive,” shared Commissioner Phil Papac.
“In my short time on the Port Commission, but lifetime of business experience, it was clear that BHP was a top-notch partner, both professionally and financially. This is a real miss for our community, but as we have shown so many times before, we are resilient,” stated Commissioner Tom Quigg.