Peta Jamieson, Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey, Gladstone Ports Corporation’s acting chief executive Craig Walker, John Warda and Jason Pascoe at the Bundaberg sugar terminal.
Peta Jamieson, Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey, Gladstone Ports Corporation’s acting chief executive Craig Walker, John Warda and Jason Pascoe at the Bundaberg sugar terminal.

Port growth foreseen yet tonnage drops

Gladstone Ports Corporation said its three ports collectively handled a record 124.8 million tonnes of cargo in the last financial year.

This was an increase of 4.6m tonnes compared to the previous year, according to the corporation’s annual report.

The corporation’s total income made was $476m, with its profit after taxes being $61.2m.

But the Port of Bundaberg is not contributing to that growth, even though the corporation’s acting chief executive, Craig Walker, is positive about the figures.

“Sugar and gypsum showed significant growth and contributed to 424.1kt of the total trade throughput, while molasses exports showed an incredible 127 per cent increase in trade since the 2017-18 year,” Mr Walker said.

But if one was to break down Bundaberg’s performance of tonnage, it would not be considered a record growth, but rather a slight drop.

Its total tonnage has declined for a second year in a row, but it is the exports that suffer the most.

A corporation spokeswoman said a late delivery of silica sand normally due in June was delayed until further notice, causing the drop in tonnage.

The annual report said the total throughput at the port was 548kt, which includes both the exports and imports. 27 ships used the port in the financial year.

In the 2017-18 financial year the total tonnage was 566kt tonnes, with 28 ships using the port.

And in 2016-17 there were 567kt tonnes through the port, and 26 ships.

There had been an increased use of imports, but when looking only at export tonnage there had been a further drop, with Japan, Indonesia, and the US, receiving 414kt of Bundaberg product.

It had been 470kt in 2017-18, and about 568kt in 2016-17. But the annual report reflected on the potential of the port. “Increased diversity of product is setting up the foundation for future growth at the port,” the report said. “And more is yet to come. From mid-2020, Altus Renewables will more than double their annual wood pellet exports through the Port of Bundaberg to 100,000Mt.”

The increase follows a long-term supply agreement between Altus Renewables and Mitsui.