A Queensland-based contractor will use the country’s largest backhoe dredge to widen shipping channels in the Port of Townsville, increasing potential for mineral exports in the state’s COVID-19 recovery.
The $232 million Channel Upgrade is the Port’s largest infrastructure project in its 158-year history and will allow ships up to 300 metres long to use Townsville’s 14.9-kilometres shipping channels.
Minister for Resources and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the opportunities presented by the upgrade were vital.
“Townsville was built on the back of the port and these upgrades are essential to creating jobs as part of our economic recovery from COVID-19,” Mr Stewart said.
“This upgrade is important for the resources industry, as it will allow more of North Queensland’s world class minerals to be exported to the world.”
Federal Member for Herbert Phil Thompson recounted the project’s economic benefit.
“The project has already so far supported around 1400 jobs, with the dredging contract supporting more than 70 full-time employees, including trainees who are upskilling and reskilling.” Thompson said.
The Townsville shipping channel is currently one of the narrowest in Australia at 92 metres across, but Hall Contracting will use the backhoe dredge, named Woomera, to almost double this to 180 metres.
This will likely be good news for multiple mining hubs across Queensland, including those in Cloncurry, 900 kilometres west from Townsville, which is home to Glencore’s Ernest Henry copper mine.
Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) is also located 47 kilometres south of Townsville where it has been building up to operation at its Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH).
The TECH project will receive high grade ore from New Caledonia to produce nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, high-purity alumina and other by-products.
The Port of Townsville currently services the north-east and north-west minerals provinces that contain copper, zinc, lead, phosphate, magnetite and coal.