The Port of Mackay yesterday welcomed one of the mining industry’s biggest and most critical pieces of equipment — a “stacker reclaimer” bound for the nearby Port of Hay Point.

The stacker reclaimer — used to move coal from incoming trains to terminal stockpiles and then onto export ships — will be unloaded at the Port of Mackay over the next two weeks and staged for transport to BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Hay Point Coal Terminal operations, about 40km south of Mackay.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) CEO Steve Lewis said the arrival of the equipment on the MV Happy Dover is a welcome development for the region’s ports.

“The Port of Mackay is ideally placed and equipped to handle break bulk trade, as demonstrated by the arrival of BMA’s stacker reclaimer,” Mr Lewis said.

“From Mackay, the equipment will be barged down to NQBP’s Half Tide Tug Harbour from where it will be transported in pieces through the public car park and then along NQBP’s specifically designed haul road and then on to BMA’s Hay Point Coal Terminal operations.

“This is the first of two stacker reclaimers that are to be delivered to BMA’s Hay Point operations over the coming months.

“The cargo is a significant event for NQBP as it highlights the strategic value of our integrated ports network (Abbot Point-Port of Mackay-Hay Point), and the vital role the ports play for the regional economy.”

Mr Lewis said there would be some impact on public access to the Half Tide Tug Harbour car park and nearby community park while the equipment was transported in coming weeks.

Engineering group Sandvik is keeping the local community informed about the temporary impacts.

The replacement stacker reclaimer will be barged in eight separate movements due to the size of the pieces of machinery involved.

With the heaviest component 267,000 kilograms and the longest 65 metres in length, the pieces will be transferred straight from ship to barge by crane to be taken directly to Hay Point.

Smaller pieces such as buckets and structural elements will be either stored at Mackay on laydown spaces or trucked directly to the coal terminal.

In total, the stacker reclaimer weighs 1150 tonnes and 65 metres long when the boom is fully extended.

“NQBP considers break bulk cargo to be an expanding trade opportunity for the Port of Mackay,” Mr Lewis said.

“A $17 million program of works at the port in the next year is budgeted as part of NQBP’s strategy to further unlock the port’s capability to attract new break bulk trade and continue to increase vessel numbers.”