The Burnie Export Gateway initiative will lay the foundation for exponential growth in Tasmanian mineral exports to global markets, enabling capacity for larger vessels to berth and ensuring fit-for-purpose terminal infrastructure. Importantly, this project will also enable growth in other commodities such as forestry and container export.
The Port of Burnie is a major Tasmanian deep-water port, located on the north-west coast. The Port supports a variety of industries, including mining, forestry, container freight, fuel and tourism.
Key industry activities at the Port include:
Forestry: The Port is a critical gateway for the movement of forestry products from northern Tasmania. The Burnie Chip Export Terminal (BCET) exported 1.45 million tonnes of bulk woodchips through the Port during FY2019. Alongside this, more than 550,000 tonnes of logs were exported through the Port.
Bulk mineral export: The Port currently supports strong bulk minerals export volumes to both domestic and international markets. The minerals industry in Tasmania is experiencing significant growth, as new Tasmanian companies seek to complete planning, logistics, supply chain and market reviews.
Container import/export: The Port supports significant container volumes for the benefit of Tasmania. As an Island state, container trade is vital to Tasmania’s economy, for both imports and exports. Container volumes through the Port for FY2019 accounted for 43% of the state’s overall container movements.
In addition, tourism is emerging as a growth sector for the Port, with cruise visitations increasing in recent years.
In 2018 TasPorts launched its Port Master Plan to guide significant capital investment in Tasmanian port infrastructure over a 15-year period. The Port of Burnie was identified as a key component of this Plan, with significant opportunity identified to enable growth in bulk mineral exports, along with scope to develop an international container terminal.
The Tasmanian minerals sector has a significant growth volume projection from approximately one million tonnes currently, to between 6 to 10 million tonnes per annum.
A fundamental key to unlocking this growth is the capability to accommodate larger bulk export vessels at the Port to enable shipping direct to global markets, including South East Asia, Japan and China. Current mineral storage and ship loader constraints are also significant inhibitors to growth.
Bulk export industry representatives are aligned on the Port of Burnie as Tasmania’s preferred bulk export port. The only deep-water port on Tasmania’s north-west coast, the Port is also logistically suited to bulk export due to its close proximity to rich mineral deposits, such as iron ore.
Through a combination of dredging and the development of landside infrastructure, the Port offers exponential growth for the Tasmanian minerals sector and will also provide growth opportunities for dry bulk cargo, forestry products and international containers.
Investment in port expansion is necessary to ensure Tasmania can keep pace with supply-side pressures in the future, with economic modelling estimating that demand for port capacity will exceed existing capacity by 2028.