The Port of Newcastle, one of the largest coal export ports in the world, is on the verge of major expansion that will increase its diversity in the next decade.
Newcastle Port Corporation CEO Gary Webb said the port had been working hard to build the foundations for growth and diversity through a strategic business development plan that was promising to deliver much of the opportunity in the next 12 months.
“Newcastle has an international reputation as a coal export port with about 90 million tonnes of coal expected to be shipped in the 2007-08 financial year,” said Mr Webb.
“December was a record month with 8.3 million tonnes of coal being exported, while the six-month period of July to December was also a record with 44.5 million tonnes leaving the port.
“Coal exports will be the mainstay of trade throughput for the port and the NSW Government is currently working with former NSW Premier, Nick Greiner, to facilitate discussions with the coal industry and service providers for the industry to develop its own medium-term solution to address the coal export capacity imbalance,” he said.
Among the infrastructure developments at Newcastle is construction of the port’s new $1 billion coal terminal by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG). The green light for the project was given in January when NCIG finalised its financial arrangements. The terminal will initially have capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum with the first coal expected to be to be exported in early 2010.
Mr Webb said the value of coal shipped through Newcastle was about $6 billion, whilst other commodity throughput of about five million tonnes was valued at about $2.6 billion.
“As you can see from these figures, Newcastle has great potential to grow in non-coal areas. We have more than 200 hectares of land available for development and our Business Development Branch is increasing its attention on service for existing and potential customers,” he said.
“There has also been major concentration by our Port Development Branch on improved port planning and development of land under the corporation’s control.
“Combine this with the NSW Ports Growth Plan where Newcastle is designated as the next container terminal port once Port Botany reaches capacity, and you realise that Newcastle Port Corporation has a busy future.”
Projects for the future
> New wharf infrastructure
A multi-million dollar redevelopment of wharf infrastructure is planned for the former BHP Steelworks site at Mayfield. The project includes refurbishment of a former BHP ore berth plus the construction of eight hectares of hardstand behind the wharf on the Hunter River. Tenders have been called and the NSW Government, through Newcastle Port Corporation, has committed $22 million to the project. The 265-metre long berth will be used for loading and unloading a wide range of cargo including general cargo, break-bulk and containers to service throughput growth in the port. The eight hectares of hardstand may include facilities such as covered/uncovered storage, cargo and container storage areas, services and amenities. Construction is expected to begin mid 2008.
> Redevelopment of the Mayfield site
Hunter Development Corporation has announced two consortia, Mirvac and Buildev Intertrade Consortium (a consortium of Buildev and Toll), remain in the running to redevelop part of the 150 hectare site. A range of general and port-related industry could be operating at the site from as early as 2010, bringing significant investment and new jobs to the region.
> Kooragang wharf expansion
Construction has started on a $2.8 million expansion of one of Newcastle’s busiest wharf areas at Kooragang Island bulk berth area. New mooring ‘dolphins’ are being constructed at each end of the existing 182-metre long Kooragang No.2 berth. A new mooring block will also be built to improve capacity for non-coal trade by allowing the berthing of two vessels at the same time.
> Bulk liquids facilities
Marstel Terminals Newcastle Pty Ltd plans to establish a $47 million bulk liquids facility on portside land that incorporates a fuels and bio-fuels blending and distribution terminal. Manildra Park Pty Ltd is to construct a $13 million ship refuelling facility in the port for operation by early 2009, while BP Australia has announced a port development to improve fuel supplies to the Hunter Region.
> Luxury superyacht manufacturing
The former State Dockyard at Dyke Point is being transformed into a world class superyacht and large custom vessel manufacturing facility. Azzura Marine is developing the site in conjunction with Newcastle Port Corporation, and physical features of the area have changed in the past few months following demolition of a number of buildings. Azzura Marine plans to start yacht construction in mid-2008.
> Kooragang Coal Terminal
A $78 million expansion of Port Waratah Coal Services, Kooragang Coal Terminal has increased capacity from 77 million tonnes to 102 million tonnes per annum with the total nominal capacity of Port Waratah Coal Services standing at 145 million tonnes per annum.
> Cruise Hunter
The highly successful regional enterprise, Cruise Hunter, has relocated to Newcastle Port Corporation to allow further development of a niche market. The corporation has been a major sponsor of Cruise Hunter, which has moved from Newcastle City Council to improve synergy between port operations and the marketing of Newcastle as a cruise ship and naval destination.
Mr Webb said Newcastle Port Corporation was known for its functionality, efficiency and commitment to safety in focusing on diversification of business growth, port-related development and other commercial activities.
“Our Business Development Branch is finding that customers are demanding large areas of back-up land, supported by road and rail transport links to major markets. They want this land adjacent to deep water that can handle the ever-increasing size of vessels,” he said.
“The face of the port is changing and our objective is to proactively deliver opportunity to our customers through a well structured, strategic plan coupled with a balanced approach to infrastructure development and service.”
Excerpted from Australasian Freight Logistics, Issue 11, April/May 2008, pp.40-1.