Capability Statement

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North Queensland Bulk Ports has reported a 10.4 per cent drop in coal trade for the past financial year compared with 2019/20.

NQBP is responsible for the ports of Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point and Weipa, along with the non-trading Port of Maryborough.

It saw a 7.2 per cent drop in coal exports through the Port of Abbot Point last year, while the Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal terminal exports were down 11.4 per cent.

This was a softer blow than NQBP had feared when trade tensions with China emerged during the year.

NQBP chief executive officer Nicolas Fertin revealed that the organisation had anticipated that potentially up to 30 per cent of its coal trade could be impacted.

Meanwhile the near end-of-life of East Weipa mine resulted in a decline of bauxite exports through the Port of Weipa of 18.9 per cent compared with 2019/20.

NQBP’s 2020/21 Annual Report showed that the port authority achieved a net profit after tax of $15.9 million, up from $6.9 million the previous year.

This was despite an overall trade decline of 11.3 per cent across its four ports. Income from investments, along with operational savings, contributed to the positive result, the organisation said.

Mr Fertin said the results were a testament to the hard work of port staff and employees of port users and supply chain participants. It also signaled the resilience of regional Queenslanders.

“The Port of Mackay’s importance as an essential gateway linking Central Queensland to the world has only grown during this unprecedented period of challenge,” Mr Fertin said.

“As a government-owned port authority, we are proud to have done our part to help regional Queensland recover by investing $27.6 million in repairs, upgrades and maintenance across our four ports during 2020/21 – up 72 per cent on the previous year.

“This included a $1.8 million upgrade to expand cargo capacity at the Port of Mackay’s Wharf Four and a $2.5 million project to extend Wharf One, improving its ability to handle larger cargo such as rail infrastructure, wind turbines and heavy machinery.

“Work also started during the year on a new $8.5 million tug berth facility at the port, aimed at supporting growth and diversified trade.

“With an eye to the future, we’re investing millions of dollars in our ports to maximise their inherent attributes and market appeal.”

The annual report stated that trade through the Port of Mackay was 3.2 million tonnes, the same as the previous year. The volume of breakbulk cargo, which includes over-sized loads such as heavy machinery and equipment, increased by 75 per cent on the previous year.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted NQBP’s major trading partners during 2020/21.

“Like three of the critical sectors of the Queensland economy—tourism, resources and agriculture—NQBP’s activities are directly dependent on trade demand from Australia’s neighbouring countries in Asia and the Sub-Continent,” Mr Fertin said.

“With NQBP ports supporting around 22,400 trade jobs (farmer, miners and transport providers) and contributing more than $23 billion in economic value through trade, our ability to identify and respond to threats and opportunities remains paramount.

“We are working collaboratively with industry partners, government agencies and our port communities to support the progressive evolution and transition to new industries.”