Two of Australia’s lesser known ports are gearing up to handle ever rising exports of bulk cargoes.
The port of Townsville in North Queensland will draw on its resource rich hinterland to double cargo throughput over the next few years.
In 2009/10 the port expects to handle just over 10mt (million tonnes) but this will rise to over 20mt by 2013/14 and by a further 5mt the following year, according to forecasts by Mel Marke, general manager for business development manager.
Almost 60% of current throughput is directly related to mining activity producing cargoes such as lead ingots and copper concentrates. A further 1.5mt is mining related, including cargoes such as sulphuric acid.
Marke said ambitious fertilizer, sugar, concentrates, magnetite, copper and phosphorous ore projects in the port’s hinterland would boost throughput in the years to come, while a local nickel refinery was also increasing output.
Plans currently on the drawing board or being implemented would see the construction of a new berth in 2011/12, the extension of the existing Berth 10 in 2012/13 and the upgrade of two further berths, while a new area east of the port is due to be reclaimed by 2012. The port development plan would also see a new breakwater protected harbour constructed to house five bulk cargo berths and the out harbour deepened and expanded to accommodate bulk carriers larger than Panamax class.
In the Northern Territory, the port of Darwin is keen to win more exports from the multiple mining projects underway or proposed in its hinterland covering manganese, iron ore and phosphate. The port and local government plan to build a new A$35m iron ore terminal in the coming years as part of a major redevelopment of the port’s East Arm Wharf area.
The new iron ore terminal would include an overland conveyor, a rail dump rated at 1,500tph (tonnes per hour) and a ship loading system capable of loading at up to 2,000tph.
In 2008/09 the port handled 4mt but once the full redevelopment is given the green light, this could rise to almost 15mt by 2012 and a maximum of 45mt by 2016 with dry bulk exports the major driver of growth. The additional capacity would allow the port to handle over 70 Panamax calls a year by the start of 2013.