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Burnie to have international shipping link

Tasmania could have a direct international shipping link by the end of next year. Source: The Mercury

A proposal to establish an international container terminal at the Port of Burnie is progressing, with Australia’s biggest stevedore pledging $20 million to start a staged $75 million investment to connect the island state with the world economy.

DP World said it had a firm proposal on the table and it was being negotiated with TasPorts but the finer details were deemed commercial in confidence.

DP World and TasPorts said the development would give large ships access to the Tasmanian market, local exporters more choice and cut the cost of sending goods to key destinations by almost half.

“TasPort’s 30-year port plan clearly identifies Burnie as the state’s future largest natural gateway for container freight in and out of the state,” TasPorts CEO Paul Weedon said.

The fresh commitment comes as TasPort’s annual report shows the government-owned entity is back in the black for the first time since 2010, returning a profit of $1.5 million.

Revenue increased by 9.4% to $95 million due to an increase in freight volumes largely driven by forestry exports, which increased by 24%.

Underpinning that growth was the Burnie Woodchip Export terminal, which was acquired by TasPorts in 2014, the annual report said.

DP World Australia managing director Paul Scurrah said Burnie could be handing international containers vessels by as early as November next year.

“Tasmanian exports are set to grow as soon as we can get direct shipping connections to major international ports and the cities of Sydney, Brisbane and Perth,” Mr Scurrah said.

The development will create 40 new jobs when it starts, inject $10 million into the North- West’s economy each year and reduce the cost of containerised freight to key destinations by over 40%.

Braddon MP Justine Keay said the fact the deal was not contingent on the Federal Government’s blocked coastal shipping reforms was a big win for the region.

“As this proposal looks to build on existing Tasmanian markets rather than competing with them, I’m sure coastal shipping firms will also welcome today’s news,’ she said.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said the reforms were still important.

“Even with this investment, it will be vital to ensure that ships come to Tasmania and that producers can afford to export on them and the best way to achieve that is with the Government’s Coastal Shipping Reforms,” he said.