The north-western Tasmanian port of Burnie will get a A$40M shiploader to replace a 50-year old unit as part of a proposed upgrade that will also see the port able to accommodate Panamax bulkers.
The funding for the shiploader was part of a pre-poll pledge by the Liberal/National Coalition, which was subsequently returned to office in the May national elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the shiploader would secure the minerals export supply chain in Tasmania.
“This new shiploader will have a greater reach and height to accommodate bigger vessels and handle a broad range of commodities, including zinc, nickel, copper, pyrite, lead and differing grades of iron ore,” he said.
The shiploader would have a loading rate of at least 3,500 tph, a 350% increase on existing capacity.
The existing loader, rail dumper and storage is owned and operated by TasRail, as Burnie is the coastal terminus of the rail line from Tasmania’s mineral-rich west coast.
The facilities and the port’s No.5 (bulk) berth were built in the late 1960s, mostly to serve the Electrolytic Zinc Co (now Nyrstar).
However, any major expansion of the berth capacity to handle larger vessels will present ship-handling challenges, due to the proximity of Toll Tasmania’s nearby berth, recently upgraded to handle ro-ro vessels more than 50% larger than their predecessors.
Port owner TasPorts – like TasRail, also state government-owned – is proposing to new deepwater berths, 8A and 8B, at the southern end of the port.