FULL STEAM AHEAD: The Port is providing a boost for Bundaberg trade and jobs.
FULL STEAM AHEAD: The Port is providing a boost for Bundaberg trade and jobs. Contributed

JOBS GROWTH: Port activity shows confidence in region

A NEW agreement focused on expanding operations at the Port of Bundaberg is set to drive jobs growth in the Wide Bay Burnett region.

Sugar handler Sugar Terminals Limited (STL) has confirmed it will investigate options to expand its existing storage and handling operations at the port.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Memorandum of Understanding signed between STL and the Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) could pave the way for increased and more diverse trade through the port, creating new jobs along the way.

"This agreement is another sign that exporters see the potential for growth in Bundaberg and are ready to back that with long-term agreements," Mr Bailey said.

"It also underpins the Palaszczuk Government's commitment to keep Queensland's ports in public hands and invest in them to support jobs and the state's economy.

"A recent deal to expand wood pellets exports through Bundaberg's port to Japan to be used as a green fuel in the generation of electricity will see more throughput next year.

"The outlook for new export trade at the Port of Bundaberg is promising too, with Ilmenite exports planned to start early next year.

"STL's agreement with GPC is a further sign that companies see a positive long term-future in what Bundaberg's port has to offer for their business."

GPC's Acting CEO Craig Walker said the partnership with STL would support a detailed business case for the design and construction of Common User Infrastructure at the port.

"The Common User Infrastructure would utilise STL's existing Sir Thomas Hiley Wharf and ship loading facilities to diversify the current sugar industry resources," Mr Walker said.

"STL has extensive experience in both operating and maintaining bulk storage and handling facilities, and with GPC as Australia's premier multi-commodity port, we see that this venture will stimulate industry growth for the region.

"We have been working with STL on this venture for some time in conjunction with our strategic planning work to promote the Port of Bundaberg and surrounding State Development Area."

STL CEO John Warda said the organisation is pursuing opportunities to diversify its income base and better utilise existing assets to complement its sugar handling operations, bringing about additional income and employment opportunities for the region.

"We are excited to be working with GPC on this venture; as a major stakeholder in Bundaberg we see significant opportunities for Common User Infrastructure to attract new commodities to the Port," Mr Warda said.

"We are working on a staged approach with GPC, with the signing of this MOU today an important first step in investigating the options to add new linkages into existing infrastructure."

GPC and STL will commence formal investigations over the coming months.

The business case will build on the preliminary options assessment undertaken by GPC and the Department of State Development Manufacturing Infrastructure and Planning.