Hutchison Ports and Canadian National Railway (CN) have signed a long-term commercial agreement with the Québec Port Authority (QPA) to build and operate a new inland deep-water container terminal, known as project Laurentia.
The C$775m (US$575m) project, which will be financed primarily through the joint investment of the three partners. The QPA also has ongoing discussions with the federal and provincial governments to complete the financing.
The Laurentia terminal will be the only facility in the St. Lawrence, which could accommodate the new generations of very large ships, while also benefiting from a direct railway and highway connection.
Mario Girard, president and CEO of the QPA, said: “Today, through a joint venture with Hutchison Ports and CN, we are setting the stage for this project to become a North American success in terms of business and social acceptability not to mention a vector of economic development for Québec, allowing the St. Lawrence to gain additional growth and competitiveness with US ports.”
The agreement stipulates that Hutchison Ports will build the most environmentally and technologically advanced cargo-handling facility in North America.
It is a “unique opportunity” for the Port of Québec’s future container terminal to become one of the terminals with the smallest ecological footprint in the world, noted the port authority.
Eric Ip, group managing director of Hutchison Ports, said: “Québec City will become Hutchison Ports’ gateway to the East coast of North America.
“With its fully intermodal deep-water port, its strategic location to reach the Midwest market, and the strong support shown by the local authorities, the Québec project has all the attributes to be successful in this highly important market.”
JJ Ruest, president and CEO of CN, stated: “In an economy driven by consumer spending derived freight, long haul supply chains need to be modern, cost effective and reliable.”
Hutchison Ports was selected after a competitive process in which QPA invited the leading international port operators to provide proposals to participate in the project. HSBC acted as QPA’s sole strategic and financial advisor throughout the process.
The deep-water container terminal project is currently under an environmental assessment process with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.