Protection of our natural environment is at the forefront of North Queensland Bulk Ports’ business planning and operations.

We are the only port operator in the world to run three major ports within a World Heritage Area. This is a responsibility that weighs heavily in our decision making. We work with a clear focus, ensuring we always reduce and manage any potential environmental impact.

We care about getting the balance right. Our mission is to add value to the prosperity of the state, customers and communities, while demonstrating high levels of social and environmental integrity.

A primary focus at each port

While environmental activities occur across all four trading ports, the main focus at each port differs.

Port of Mackay

Air quality monitoring is a key responsibility for NQBP at the Port of Mackay. Coral, marine water and seagrass monitoring programs are also in place at this port. A regional alliance was developed to look at stormwater runoff in the Mackay region. We are proud to partner with Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments, and hope to implement management strategies to improve stormwater runoff.

Port of Weipa

At the Port of Weipa, we continue to work within stringent environmental guidelines to ensure safe navigable shipping corridors to and from the port. Maintenance dredging is necessary to provide safe, sustainable and competitive seaport services. The dredging program is completed with full environmental compliance.

Port of Abbot Point

Abbot Point is a designated Queensland Priority Port and, as such, capital dredging is required to allow for future growth of coal export capacity from 50 to 120 mtpa. Dredging at this port is subject to environmental approvals and the outcomes of seagrass, marine water and coral monitoring.

Port of Hay Point

As one of the largest coal export ports in the world, our focus here is on consistent coal dust and air quality monitoring. In place for nearly 20 years, this program is designed to improve dust management practices at the port. The results of the most recent studies showed that all monitored community sites around Hay Point were in full compliance with the national air quality standards. Coral, marine water and seagrass monitoring programs are also in place at this port.

View key environmental activities at each port in more depth.

Impact assessment of projects

All new projects on port land are assessed for potential environmental impacts as part of an internal approval process. The proponent is required to prepare an Environmental Management Plan that covers:

  • Legislative requirements
  • Water, air or noise impacts
  • Stormwater management (including erosion and sediment control)
  • Waste management
  • Flora and fauna management
  • Incorporation of sustainability measures.

NQBP requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for major projects on port land. NQBP’s environment policy outlines how it is committed to protection of the environment and to the sustainable management of its ports and activities.

Read more about applying to develop on port land.

Leadership and partnerships

Our role as an environmental guardian is also practical and ongoing. Every day we operate our ports to the highest international standards through our Environmental Management Systems (EMS), which are certified under AS/ISO14001:2015. Find out more about our environmental management practices.

Our environment team hold key advisory positions and roles at local, regional, state and International level.

International leadership

During 2019/20, we continued our engagement with PIANC (The World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure), the international home of waterborne transport infrastructure policy and research on key environmental aspects of port management.

NQBP team members were accepted as Australian expert representatives on multiple PIANC working groups.

In September 2019, we sponsored the ‘Crisis Management and Natural Disaster Response’ seminar at the PIANC Coasts and Ports Conference. Here we demonstrated how we do business and get the balance right; demonstrating that we take our environmental and social responsibilities as seriously as our commercial acumen.

Furthermore, in February 2020, NQBP was represented among the best international environmental scientists in the world at the opening session of the PIANC EnviCom Working Group on the implications of invasive marine species for waterborne transport infrastructure.

The working group will generate an international guideline on managing the business, liability, health and safety and other risks associated with invasive marine species.

In partnership with PIANC, NQBP co-authored a best practice guideline on Environmental Risk Management for Navigation Infrastructure Projects, which was released in October 2019.

The guideline highlights the importance of early and ongoing stakeholder engagement and uses Australian and NQBP case studies to demonstrate best practice. NQBP’s Director of Environment was co-chair of the working group. NQBP was also involved in the PIANC Working Group on Beneficial Re-use.

Partnerships

We share the same passion as our valued stakeholders when it comes to stewardship of the local environment and this has led to several successful partnerships in our port communities.

James Cook University

Our partnership with James Cook University's Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Research (TropWATER) has evolved over more than 25 years, and in 2019 it became an award winner. The partnership won the Outstanding Collaboration for National Benefit category at the 2019 BHERT awards. This national award recognised the effort for the right balance between commercial activities and stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

JCU TropWATER has a world-leading team of researchers and specialists in marine water quality, coastal habitat, seagrass and coral ecology, and impact/compliance reporting, providing NQBP with credible and independent science and monitoring.

Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Health Rivers to Reef Partnership

We are proud to be among the 31 members who all share the same interest and passion for the health of our region’s rivers and the reef.Each year, the waterway health report card is produced by partner organisations. It includes key data from our ambient programs with JCU TropWATER’s which cover coral, seagrass and water quality.

Whitsunday Blueprint for Tourism Operators

In 2019, NQBP began its partnership with James Cook University and Reef Catchments in the Whitsunday Blueprint for Tourism Operators water quality monitoring program.

The program expands NQBP and JCU's TropWATER water quality program into the Whitsundays, whereby data from the program will help to shed light on water quality and reef health in the Whitsundays. It also includes training for tour operators in how water samples are collected from loggers they will visit regularly.