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Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement today of a $75 million funding contribution towards the Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade means works can now get underway, says Port of Townsville Limited.

The $193 million project involves widening of the shipping channels to accommodate larger ships and is the vital first stage of  the $1.64 billion Townsville Port Expansion.

Port of Townsville Limited chair Renita Garard said that the funding announcement by the Federal Government was a significant milestone in the port’s 154-year history.

“Having certainty that the port can accept larger ships is a catalyst to attract and retain investment into the region, just as the port has underpinned economic development and growth of this region since 1864,” Ms Garard said.

Townsville Port is Australia's largest sugar, zinc, lead, copper and fertiliser port and Northern Australia’s largest container and automotive port.

Port chief executive officer Ranee Crosby said the channel widening was essential for port growth.

“Ships are getting bigger, making channel widening vital.  Bigger ships coming to Townsville will mean lower freight costs, better connectivity to global markets, as well as allowing larger cruise ships to visit the city, which will further boost cruise tourism in the region,” Ms Crosby said.

“After more than 10 years in the planning, our team is ready to start delivering the biggest investment project in our history.”

The Queensland Government has committed $75 million towards the channel works, and Port of Townsville Limited will fund $43 million.

Queensland and Commonwealth environmental approvals for the project are in place.

Green light for $193m channel project
Mining contractor Barminco is well advanced in developing the decline for the new Mount Colin underground copper operation near Cloncurry.

Owner Round Oak Minerals, formerly CopperChem, expects the mine to employ 70-80 people and have a lifespan of at least four years.

Chief executive officer Rob Cooper said the decline had advanced about 180m in late August and was still a few months away from ore body development.

Mining activities also started in July at Round Oak’s new Wallace South gold development near Cloncurry. That operation has created 30-35 jobs on the mining side, as well as about 25 positions at Round Oak’s new gold processing facilities at Cloncurry.

“We will start mining ore from Wallace South in September and ore will start being hauled back to the Cloncurry plant in October,” Mr Cooper said.

The Wallace gold operation will draw on a cluster of small gold assets in the Cloncurry region.

“We have about two years of production at the moment planned from Wallace South and Wynberg mines, with a pipeline of other projects to follow,” Mr Cooper said. “The idea is to sure up these other projects over time to extend the operation’s life.”

Barminco advances Mount Colin decline
The final major piece of infrastructure for the $2.6 billion Amrun bauxite project on Cape York Peninsula, a ship loader, is being assembled on site.

Rio Tinto says first production and shipping are now expected before the end of 2018, ramping up to an estimated full production rate of 22.8Mtpa by the end of 2019.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques today visited the soon-to-be competed project.

Out of a total cost of $2.6 billion, Rio Tinto has spent $2.1 billion with Australian companies, of which two thirds has been with local Queensland business. This includes $244 million invested with local Cape York companies.

“It is a tremendous achievement that more than 770 Queensland businesses have been engaged directly and indirectly to supply goods and services at the Amrun project,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

More than 1200 people are now working on site, including 900 Queenslanders – representing 75 per cent of the workforce – and  178 are Indigenous people.

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations employees have started moving across to the project to support pre-mining activities as it transitions from a construction site to a fully functioning mine.

With the ship loader now being assembled on site, construction of the Amrun infrastructure is 90 per cent complete and turnover to operations under way.

The ship loader was fabricated into three main modules by Civmec at its Western Australian facility after it was awarded a contract by Sandvik to support the project.

Amrun project nears production
The first roll-on roll-off (RORO) ship to berth at Port of Mackay arrived last week, with four giant Caterpillar 794AC mining trucks amongst the 18 MAFI trailers on board.

NSS stevedored the vessel, which delivered 18 MAFI trailers and 68 static pieces, which were discharged with forklifts.

NSS mobilised specialised handling equipment from its Townsville headquarters to complete the work.

NSS operations manager Damien Scott said the groundbreaking shipment was exciting for NSS.

“NSS is a leader in regional Queensland, and we are proud to be involved in this momentous occasion," Mr Scott said.

"It’s the result of a lot of hard work between all parties involved. NQBP’s Trade Development team had been working for two years to secure this shipment, and to see a successful first call is satisfying, and will provide confidence to logistics firms that Mackay is a viable option for RORO cargoes”.

Norwegian-based shipping company Hoegh Autoliners, who operate the RORO vessel Viking Destiny that delivered the first Mackay cargo, were impressed with NSS’ capability and seamless operation. This successful project now opens up opportunities to expand their routes into the region.

The Cat 794AC trucks were shipped into Australia by Hastings Deering from the United States, bound for the Bowen Basin.

Hastings Deering general manager mining sales Jason Smith said the delivery represented an important change in the heavy logistics supply chain traditionally employed for such cargoes.

“Historically, this kind of machinery has had to be brought into Australia via other ports and transported large distances on the roads,” Mr Smith said.

“With mining activity picking up in the Bowen Basin, it’s great to have the option to bring equipment directly into the Port of Mackay.”

NSS stevedores first RORO shipment in MackayNSS stevedores first RORO shipment in Mackay
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) has reported record trade for the 2017-18 financial year, with 187.7 million tonnes of throughput passing through its four trading ports.

The figure represents a 10 per cent increase on the previous year and included trade growth at each port.

NQBP’s previous trade record was 178.5 million tonnes of throughput in 2014-15.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said that the Port of Mackay exceeded three million tonnes of throughput (3,007,779 tonnes) for only the third time in its history.

“This news really demonstrates the renewed strength in Mackay’s economy with trade not reaching this level since the 2013-14 financial year,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“More than 100,000 tonnes of break bulk cargo passed through the port, linked to increased industry in the Bowen Basin. NQBP and the government have focused on growing this trade over the past year, making several infrastructure upgrades and improvements.

“For example, the installation of new fenders and an upgrade to allow roll-on roll-off (RORO) ships to call at the Port of Mackay for the first time ever was recently completed.

“This means the port can now be considered by new mining and agricultural original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), who tend to favour the RORO carriers. That means there’s more opportunity on the horizon for our local port.”

Fuel, which is the port’s biggest commodity by volume, also had a record year. 1.6 million tonnes were imported, largely to service a pick-up in mining activity in the region.


Throughput increased at each of NQBP’s four trading ports in FY17-18:

  • Port of Hay Point (pictured below) – 120.4 million tonnes, 13 per cent increase on FY16-17
  • Port of Mackay – 3 million tonnes, 3 per cent increase on FY16-17
  • Port of Abbot Point – 30 million tonnes, 10 per cent increase on FY16-17
  • Port of Weipa – 36.2 million tonnes, 2 per cent increase on FY16-17

Bumper year for North Queensland Bulk Ports
The State Government says Townsville is one step closer to having a $2 billion lithium-ion battery factory after it signed an assistance agreement with proponent Imperium 3.

Imperium 3 is an international joint venture led by Boston Energy and Innovation, Magnis Resources and Charge CCCV LLC, and the Queensland Government agreement follows an election commitment last year to provide up to $3.1 million for a feasibility study into this project.

“Today’s signing is great news for Townsville, and Queensland as a whole, as it means we are one step closer to making this facility a reality, along with the jobs it would bring to Townsville,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“I was in Boston in June this year at the BIO International Convention, as part of my trade delegation to the United States, where I observed the signing of a recommitment between Townsville City Council and Imperium 3 should the lithium-ion battery project progress to construction.

“In line with our Advance Queensland agenda, we are determined to make the most of the opportunities for the future, and by assisting to progress the feasibility study of this project, we hope to leverage considerable private sector investment into regional Queensland.

“Battery storage solutions are fundamental to making renewable energy reliable, and Imperium 3’s project would be supplying into a rapidly expanding market and would further develop Queensland’s advanced manufacturing capabilities in the renewable energy market.”

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said a senior team from his department had worked with Imperium 3 to finalise the assistance agreement to support the delivery of the feasibility study for the $2 billion lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility.

The Imperium 3 consortium has a project in New York that is more advanced and is providing a pathway for the Townsville project.

State follows through on battery plant backing