Job-creating infrastructure investments have helped the Port of Mackay weather the twin storms of COVID-19 and regional trade tensions over the course of the 2021 financial year, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) reported today.
The government-owned port authority returned a dividend of $4.32 million to the people of Queensland, having brought forward infrastructure investment which supported more than 200 construction jobs.
NQBP Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Fertin said the results were a testament to the hard work of port staff and employees of port users and supply chain participants. It also signaled the resilience of regional Queenslanders.
“The Port of Mackay’s importance as an essential gateway linking Central Queensland to the world has only grown during this unprecedented period of challenge,” Mr Fertin said.
“As a government-owned port authority, we are proud to have done our part to help regional Queensland recover by investing $27.6 million in repairs, upgrades and maintenance across our four ports during 2020/21 – up 72 per cent on the previous year.
“This included a $1.8 million upgrade to expand cargo capacity at the Port of Mackay’s Wharf Four and a $2.5 million project to extend Wharf One, improving its ability to handle larger cargo such as rail infrastructure, wind turbines and heavy machinery.
“Work also started during the year on a new $8.5 million tug berth facility at the port, aimed at supporting growth and diversified trade.
“With an eye to the future, we’re investing millions of dollars in our ports to maximise their inherent attributes and market appeal.”
The investments are already paying off at the Port of Mackay, which handled record trade volumes during the first two months of the new financial year.
NQBP’s 2020/21 Annual Report, tabled in the Queensland Parliament on 29 September 2021, stated the port authority achieved a net profit after tax of $15.9 million, up from $6.9 million the previous year. This was despite an overall trade decline of 11.3 per cent across its four ports. Income from investments, along with operational savings, contributed to the positive result.
The annual report stated that trade through the Port of Mackay was 3.2 million tonnes, the same as the previous year. The volume of breakbulk cargo, which includes over-sized loads such as heavy machinery and equipment, increased by 75 per cent on the previous year.
Coal exports through the Port of Abbot Point were down 7.2 per cent, while Hay Point coal exports were down 11.4 per cent. Around 75 per cent of the coal exported through these ports goes towards steel making, with the remaining 25 per cent used for electricity production.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted NQBP’s major trading partners during 2020/21.
“Like three of the critical sectors of the Queensland economy—tourism, resources and agriculture—NQBP’s activities are directly dependent on trade demand from Australia’s neighbouring countries in Asia and the Sub-Continent,” Mr Fertin said.
“With NQBP ports supporting around 22,400 trade jobs (farmer, miners and transport providers) and contributing more than $23 billion in economic value through trade, our ability to identify and respond to threats and opportunities remains paramount.
“We are working collaboratively with industry partners, government agencies and our port communities to support the progressive evolution and transition to new industries.”