The new CEO of the Port of Newcastle in Australia has said that the port is open to proposals to build a container terminal at the port.
The port is mainly a coal port but CEO Geoff Crowe was quoted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as saying: “At the moment if we had somebody knocking on our door to build a container terminal then we would certainly look at it. Or if somebody could come forward with a compelling case for a container terminal we would certainly look at it but in the current circumstances we haven’t got that.
He continued: “It doesn’t mean we won’t talk about it and there is nothing to restrict us from talking to people and looking to go towards a container terminal in the future.”
This follows similar comments made by the port’s executive manager of business and trade Peter Francis who said on August 11 that a container terminal is an option for 200 ha of vacant land at the port.
Francis is quoted in the Newcastle Herald as saying: ‘‘The challenge for containers is being able to get the inbound container trade into Newcastle. Given that the majority of New South Wales container freight is consumed within the Sydney basin area; that becomes a bit challenging.” Newcastle is in the region of New South Wales, 160km North of Sydney and its Port Botany.
‘‘Having said that,” Francis continued, “we are looking at it, and if there is demand for a container operation in Newcastle, we will absolutely pursue that and we can pursue that. There is no limit on us doing that despite what we hear sometimes.’’
This last comment is believed to refer to a rumour that the state government leased Port Botany and Newcastle with a condition that Newcastle could not build a container terminal.
Port of Newcastle is a 50/50 joint venture between the Chinese state-owned China Merchants and Hastings Funds Management. The venture has 97 years remaining on its 98 year lease, signed last year.
The idea of a container terminal at Newcastle was originally proposed around 2003 but successive governments have chosen instead to expand Port Botany’s container terminals.