TasRail has confirmed an 80-per-cent cost blowout for the project to expand its bulk minerals export facility at the Port of Burnie and is currently in negotiations with the federal government over who will pay for the excess.
Speaking at a government business scrutiny parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, TasRail chief executive officer Steven Dietrich said the cost to expand the facility's storage capacity from 130,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes had nearly doubled, to $18 million.
"We estimated the price to extend that facility some four years ago, and with labour costs, material costs - there's a lot of cement, a lot of steel that needs to go into that construction," he said.
"We are about to go back to market, and dare I suggest, we'll see some cost pressures there.
Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said negotiations with the federal government, which is funding the project, were underway.
Mr Dietrich said the federal government had made it clear they did not want to "de-scope" the project.
"Through the infra-strategic review process, TasRail didn't lose any of its projects, so our relationship with Canberra could not be better."
The project could help West Coast mining groups such as Avebury Mines, Copper Mines of Tasmania and MMG, that need to export production either via road or rail.
Mr Dietrich also said he expected the Burnie port's giant $64 million ship loader to be commissioned by April next year.
Opposition leader Rebecca White said the final installation of the loader, originally costed at $40 million and scheduled for completion by 2021, had been continuously delayed.
TasRail chair Stephen Cantwell admitted the company had been "a little ambitious" over the project's original timeline.
He said the company needed to get the project right, because the West Coast mining industry is "totally reliant on it".
Delays have been caused by the availability of specialists who have been engaged on work for Hobart's Bridgewater Bridge project, while other delays happened during COVID because of the lack of availability of some components, he said.
Earlier, the Mr Dietrich confirmed that Work Safe Tasmania was still investigating two separate tragic incidents where men died at or near rail facilities in Tasmania's North and North-West.
In the second incident this year, Mr Dietrich said a man gained unauthorised access to the Burnie rail yards, and then sought to hide from arriving early-morning shift workers between two trains.
The man died after employees began shunting trains as part of their normal work routines, Mr Dietrich said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.