Friday 16th Nov, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: Western Australia

Fremantle's Inner Harbour. Photo: Fremantle Ports
Fremantle's Inner Harbour. Photo: Fremantle Ports

A READING of the trade figures for Fremantle Ports is intriguing for its diversity.

Container, bulk and cruise ships are regular visitors.

It turns out that hay is the largest single containerised commodity.

Overseeing all of this is Chris Leatt-Hayter, Fremantle Ports’ chief executive.

He notes that in terms of port productivity, the latest figures from the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics publication, Waterline, show Fremantle currently has the best crane rate among the five capital city ports and its average truck turnaround time is well ahead of the five port average.

“Fremantle is also performing well in its aim to increase the rail share of container freight transported by rail, thus increasing efficiency in container handling while reducing the impacts of road freight transport on the community,” Mr Leatt-Hayter explains.

Total trade through Fremantle Port in 2016/17 was up 1.2% on the precious year’s result, with container trade (total throughput 715,949 teu) being just slightly ahead of the previous year’s result. Full container exports were up by 6.2%, mainly due an increased volume of containerised hay and various grains following a record harvest in Western Australia.

As noted previously, hay was the largest single commodity in Fremantle Ports’ container exports profile.

Full container imports were down 1.2% from the previous year.

“Despite the subdued conditions for container trade, the Inner Harbour rail services carried 108,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2016-17, an increase of 4% on the previous year’s record,” Mr Leatt-Hayter says.

“This represents a market share for rail of 15.2%, up from 14.5% last year.

“Notably, growth was solid in the latter part of the year with a market share of nearly 17% in the last quarter. Since 2009-10, rail volumes have grown at a compound rate of nearly 10% annually, well above trade growth over that period.”

The Rous Head Industrial Park is situated on land reclaimed through the 2010 Inner Harbour deepening and is now fully leased and close to being fully developed.

The area has been designed largely to support the port’s container handling operations, increasing efficiency and capacity.

Not surprising, with the Western Australian economy continuing at a low ebb, the downward trend in new motor vehicle imports has continued, with a decline of 8.4%.

Live sheep exports decreased by 3.2% but scrap metal exports were up by 12.6% and iron and steel imports increased 31.6%.

Iron ore mined by Mineral Resources Ltd in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia continues to be exported via Fremantle Ports’ Kwinana Bulk Terminal. Since MRL’s first shipment in November 2011, 24.7m tonnes of iron ore have been loaded out via the Kwinana Bulk Terminal making this commodity one of the most important trades within Fremantle Ports’ growing bulk business.

The bulk trade sector overall this year was up 1.1% mainly due to exports from Cooperative Bulk Handling’s Kwinana Grain Terminal increasing by 1.4m tonnes or 28.1% compared with last year.

With the previous State Government’s proposed sale of Fremantle Port now off the agenda, a major focus for Fremantle Ports is to ensure that future trade growth can be accommodated.

“We are fully supportive of the priority being given by the State Government to commence planning for Outer Harbour port facilities,” Mr Leatt-Hayter says.

On the operational front, Fremantle Ports is putting its hydraulically-operated, portable shore tension mooring units to good use in achieving greater safety and stability for ships at berth in stormy conditions.

In an Australian first, Wesfarmers’ EVOL LNG was approved by Fremantle Ports to bunker liquefied natural gas (LNG), providing access to this cleaner shipping fuel alternative for LNG-powered marine vessels visiting the port.

One of the highlights of the past year was the visit of Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to visit Australia.

Fremantle Ports is also able to handle any of the container ships currently calling at Australian ports and modelling undertaken this year demonstrates that the Inner Harbour has further capacity to accommodate larger ships likely to enter service on Australian trade routes within the next few years.

From the print edition August 3, 2017

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