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New crane raises the bar at Townsville Port

29 July 2021

The loading and unloading of container vessels at the Port of Townsville has been supercharged with the official commissioning of a new $30 million Berth 4 Crane and Cargo Terminal.

The Terminal’s completion has been marked by the debut of the Port’s new Liebherr Post Panamax Ship-to-Shore crane.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the crane will comfortably double the operational speeds of its predecessor.

“The new Crane and Cargo Terminal is able to unload vessels at a rate of 35 twenty-foot equivalent containers per hour,” Mr Bailey said.

“Combined with the $40.7 million Berth 4 wharf upgrade completed in 2018, it’s more than doubled the berth’s overall handling capacity.

“The crane’s faster lift rates also mean faster turn-around times for vessels – a key indicator of any port’s efficiency and trade competitiveness.”

Mr Bailey said more than 150 full-time jobs for locals have been supported by the upgrades to Berth 4, as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s economic recovery plan.

Minister for Resources and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the Port of Townsville plays a vital role in moving day-to-day products to more than 800,000 people across North Queensland.

“With demand for containerised goods expected to grow four-fold over the next 30 years, it is crucial that we find ways to keep pace,” Mr Stewart said.

“We expect boosted productivity to attract more regular shipping services to Townsville and to help sustain growth in containerised goods and other cargo well into the future. 

“The Port of Townsville is also a crucial link for the resources industry to get its product to market.

“We are also looking to support a new intra-state coastal shipping service between Townsville and Brisbane as part of our $21 million maritime jobs commitment.

“The Palaszczuk Government will be looking to this group for recommendations regarding next steps on the expressions of interest for the new coastal shipping service and the switching of crews to a local workforce, as well as the structure for the training and cadetship support that will be a condition of payment of incentives to any successful proponents.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the upgrades formed part of a whole-of-supply chain approach to improving efficiencies and preparing for significant trade growth over the coming decades.

“We’re also delivering the $232 million Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade project which is now underway,” Mr Harper said.

“Currently, the channel can accommodate vessels up to 238 metres in length and the widening of the channel will allow it to accommodate vessels up to 300 metres in length.”

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said the port would continue be a key part of Townsville’s future.

“The Port of Townsville is important to the city’s economy, by providing both direct jobs but supporting many other industries,” Mr Walker said.

“That’s why upgrades like this are important as they increase the capacity at the port.

“It’s the Palaszczuk Government that will continue to back and invest in key assets like the Port of Townsville because we know how important they are for all of Queensland.”

Port of Townsville Chief Operating Officer Drew Penny said the Port of Townsville expects to handle the equivalent of more than 200,000 twenty-foot containers per year by 2050.

“Containerised goods are one of the key growth areas we have identified for the Port, and the new crane will be an important player in helping us ready for that additional trade,” Mr Penny said.

“We doubled the general handling capacity of Berth 4 when it was upgraded in 2018 and now the Crane and Cargo Terminal delivers significant productivity improvements and greater capability for containers.

“The crane also complements the Port of Townsville’s future plans as it readies to welcome vessels up to 300m long following completion of the Channel Upgrade project in 2023.”

Construction of the Berth 4 Crane and Cargo Terminal included:

  • Construction of pavement for heavy cargo handling over a 1.8 hectare site
  • Construction of a quarantine-approved container wash bay
  • Installation of power, lighting, fencing, terminal gates, amenities and utility services
  • Road and rail level crossing for direct access to Berth 4 from the cargo terminal site
  • Supply, assembly and installation of the Liebherr Post Panamax Ship-to-Shore crane.