Jun 07, 2017

State earmarks $75m for shipping channel upgrade

State earmarks $75m for shipping channel upgrade

The State Budget will provide up to $75 million for the Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade (TCCU) project to widen the port’s shipping channels to accommodate larger ships.

The proposed $193 million upgrade project is Stage 1 of the $1.64 billion Townsville Port Expansion Project.

Port of Townsville Limited (POTL) welcomed the announcement by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on the Budget allocation, which will be subject to finalisation of an environmental impact statement and business case assessment.

POTL chief executive officer Ranee Crosby said that the project would future-proof the port by ensuring it remained competitive and viable for major shipping lines, as well as providing certainty for industry investment into the region.

“Being able to accommodate larger ships will have significant and far reaching benefits for Northern Australia; larger ships are more efficient, which means lower operating costs per unit, particularly for container and car ships,” Ms Crosby said.

“By widening the channel North Queensland will be competitive for exporters and provide lower freight costs for importers.”

“Townsville will also be able to attract larger cruise ships, providing a much needed boost to the local tourism industry.”

Dredging work for channel widening could commence in 2018, subject to environmental approvals and final funding, meaning the region would begin to see larger ships visiting Townsville within two years.

The channel widening project would take up to six years in total to complete.

POTL has submitted an Environmental Impact Statement to State and Federal regulators for final assessment and has completed a business case for the channel capacity upgrade.

Ms Palaszczuk (above) said the port expansion had been identified as a priority in the Townsville City Deal between the Queensland Government, Federal Government and Townsville City Council.

She said the project would provide a further boost to the North Queensland economy by:

  • creating 120 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs in Townsville during construction and supporting 8000 jobs in industries that rely on the Port
  • lowering freight costs for North Queensland consumers and producers;
  • allowing cruise tourism to further flourish by accommodating ships up to 300 metres.

“The Townsville Port is northern Australia’s primary container, general cargo and automotive port,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“The Port handles around 10 million tonnes of product worth over $10 billion each year, and services 70 per cent of the population in northern Australia.”

“The Port of Townsville is an important gateway for trade. Through the City Deal, the three levels of government highlighted the Port expansion as a priority.”