Several major Australian bulk trades are being severely disrupted after the loading terminal at the port of Thevenard was closed at the end of June following the discovery of structural problems.
It is believed the discovery of concrete cancer in pylons supporting the jetty on which the port’s sole bulk loader is situated, along with recently detected storm damage, forced owner Flinders Ports to suspend all operations for several months while rectification work takes place.
Thevenard, located on the South Australian coast, is the outlet for most of the nation’s supplies of gypsum, as well as handling salt, mineral sands and grain. A record of more than 500,000t of the latter was exported through the port in the 2016/17 season.
It is the gypsum trade that is the worst affected, however, with producers forced to make an urgent switch to imports that are being mostly sourced from the Middle East. Supplies have had to be rationed ahead of the early/mid-August arrival of a stream of Handysize and Handymax bulkers from Salalah, Oman and elsewhere. Prior to the closure, Thevenard had shipped over 290,000t of gypsum in H1 2017.
In a mid-July statement, Flinders Ports said repair work would begin imminently and was expected to take around three months.