The Australian federal government has given approval of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the expansion of Townsville Port in Queensland, Australia.
With the approval, early works on Stage 1, the AUD193m ($150m) channel widening project could begin by April 2018, subject to a final funding deal between state and federal governments.
Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the AUD1.64bn ($1.2bn), 30-year development plan would ensure the Port of Townsville could expand to allow it to become a globally competitive port.
Crosby said: “After nearly ten years in the planning phase, our team is looking forward to getting works underway to widen the shipping channels into the Townsville Port.
“The EIS was a very rigorous environmental review and project assessment, so we are delighted to have now received the go-ahead for the project from both the Queensland Coordinator General and the Federal Government.”
She said: “Ships are getting bigger and the widening of the channel is absolutely critical to the future viability of the Port of Townsville.
“Bigger ships coming to Townsville will mean lower shipping costs for freight, better connectivity to global trade markets, as well as allowing larger cruise ships to visit the city, which will further boost cruise tourism in the region.
“At the moment Townsville cannot accept ships longer than 238 metres in length, which by today’s global standards is completely inadequate.
"We are working closely with the Queensland and Federal Governments on final funding arrangements so we can get this project underway, creating local jobs, and continuing to work in close partnership with the local community to deliver best practice environmental outcomes.”
Port of Townsville will finance AUD43m ($33.5) for the Channel Capacity Upgrade, the Queensland government has confirmed AUD75m ($58.5m) in funding and has sought a matched AUD75m ($58.5m) contribution from the federal government for the project to kick start.