Townsville Port is the largest container and automotive port in Northern Australia, supplying a population of nearly 800,000 people with essential things like fuel, gas, food, furniture, electrical goods, clothing, cement, bitumen and vehicles. Farmers export their products like sugar, frozen meat, cattle, fruit and vegetables, and mining company’s ship out commodities like copper, zinc, silver and lead.
Townsville Port also supports critical Defence operations and cruise tourism in the region, and will welcome more than 33,000 passengers and crew to Townsville in 2017/2018.
9,000 jobs are connected to the operation of the Port.
Over the past 150 years the Port has expanded in three key stages in response to growth of the region. The Port Expansion Project is a longterm development of six new berths and channel widening and deepening, staged to meet forecast trade demand over the next 30 years. The first stage of the project is the widening of the channel to cater for larger ships.
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The channel will be widened by using a combination of industry standard dredging equipment, chosen to ensure minimal impact to the environment.
The mechanical dredge is an excavator mounted onto a pontoon which digs material from the sea bed and puts it onto a waiting barge. The barge then moves the material to the reclamation area (see diagram) to the east of the Port.
No capital dredge material is disposed of at sea – it will be placed into a fully contained area at the port.
Townsville Port is located outside the Great Barrier Marine Park.
The channel widening will take about 4 ½ years in total, following environmental and operation works approvals. This includes one year to prepare the fully enclosed bunded areas to receive all the capital dredge material, and about 3 ½ years of dredging work.
About 80% of the work to widen the channel is at the harbour entrance and Platypus Channel (close to the port), and the remaining 20% (approximately six months) is in the sea channel.
An Independent Scientific Oversight Panel will monitor the dredging and sets thresholds to safeguard environmental performance. The Panel has the authority to stop works if any impacts are observed.