by Jim Alouat
THE Port of Bundaberg is coming off a bumper year and all signs are pointing towards it becoming a bedrock of economic stability in the near future.
Gladstone Ports Corporation has released its 2016-17 annual report, showcasing record throughput tonnages, strong revenue and solid profitability.
GPC's three ports, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton, handled a record 121.2 million tonnes of cargo, 4.5 million tonnes higher than the 2015-16 financial year for a combined revenue total of $470.9 million.
GPC chairman Leo Zussino said trade throughput at the Port of Bundaberg had increased by 10% on the previous year to 567,000 tonnes.
Trade through the port was slightly down by 0.6% for sugar exports but new products such as wood pellets increased to 37,000 tonnes and silica sand to 86,000 tonnes.
"The focus for the port this year has been to set the foundation for future trade opportunities," Mr Zussino said.
"During the year, the construction of the $19.8 million Bundaberg Port Gas Pipeline and the Knauf Plasterboard facility was completed.
"This signalled new trade for the port, which received its first shipment of gypsum in July and the first plasterboard produced by Knauf in August."
Mr Zussino said the projects generated confidence and consequently more development and growth for the port.
Shipping statistics for September show the largest wood pellet shipment (29,546 tonnes) and the largest silica sand shipment (30,000 tonnes compared previously to 15,000-tonne shipments) completed loading earlier this week, Mr Zussino said.
GPC says the announcement regarding the State Development Area, adjacent to the Port of Bundaberg earlier in the year, reiterates the growing support and demand for port-related development opportunities in Bundaberg and across the broader Wide Bay Burnett region.
Mr Zussino said he looked forward to investigating the future business development opportunities the SDA would provide.
"Gladstone Ports Corporation is continually looking for new opportunities to increase trade through the Port of Bundaberg and is working with Bundaberg and surrounding regional councils, businesses and the state to do so," he said.