The multi-million investment will take 12 months to implement from April 2006 in order to enhance the Port’s bulk handling capability on the main conventional cargo facility, ‘Riverside Quay’. This investment has been driven by the growing bulk import and export business, which includes significant tonnages of coal.
The expansion plans include the deepening of the berth and channel, an extension of the Port’s main cargo handling quay, investment into more operating equipment and the creation of a second rail siding. As Keith Wilson, Managing Director for the Port of Tyne, said, “The Port has undergone tremendous change over the last ten years in order to diversify and strengthen the business. Change and evolution are essential ingredients in taking the Port’s business forward and these expansion plans will continue to do just that.”
The main river channel from just outside the piers to Tyne Dock will be deepened from 8.6m below chart datum (CD) to 9.1m and Riverside Quay will be dredged from 10.5m CD to 12.1m CD. The deeper channel and berth along with the 60m extension to Riverside Quay, lengthening the quay to 580m, will enable the Port to accommodate larger ships up to handymax and panamax sized vessels.
The Port has already placed an order for a fourth Liebherr LHM 320 Mobile Harbour crane, 23.5m3 grab and mobile hopper totalling £1.65m. The new crane, due to become operational in May, will add flexibility to the Port’s operations as it will handle a wide variety of bulk and general cargo commodities, including ferrous scrap, coal, forest and steel products.
The new rail siding will incorporate 1,120m of track, feeding directly into the 15 acre coal stocking ground. The Port’s rail terminal is connected to the UK National Network and the new siding will provide additional capacity to handle increased tonnages of bulk materials.
The Tyne has a long and distinguished tradition of handling coal. Until 2004, the focus has been on exporting coal and at its peak in the mid 1800’s 23.6m tonnes was exported in one year. Even as late as 1995 about 3.5m tonnes was being shipped from the Tyne to the Thames based power stations of Kingsnorth and Tilbury. Coal exports ceased from the River in 1998 following the demise of the North East deep mining industry and the coal loading equipment was subsequently sold to the Lyttleton Port Company, New Zealand, in 2002.
The current imported coal business through the Port started in 2004 with a first shipment of 19,000 tonnes of Russian coal. Thereafter, a further four ships and over 115,500 tonnes of coal were handled in 2004, increasing to almost 630,000 tonnes in 2005, an increase of over 540% in 12 months. Volumes are expected to double in 2006. The Port handles a wide variety of cargoes including non ferrous metal, grain, steel plate, aluminium, peat, coal, timber, paper and project cargo. 2005 was an exceedingly busy year with total cargo volumes reaching four million tonnes, 30% higher than the previous year.