CAIRNS has received a boost to its COVID-19 recovery with the completion of the $127m shipping development project.

The largest port development in Cairns’ history has just wrapped up putting the final touches on upgrades to six of the Cairns Port wharves.

In total, more than 400,000 hours were worked on the project, which included dredging the Cairns shipping channel, building an 8km pipeline to transfer silt for re-use and restoring six wharves built more than 100 years ago.

Around 800,000m3 of mud and silt has been dredged and 30 new berthing dolphins constructed along the wharves utilising the largest diameter steel piles ever driven in the region to allow bigger ships and more investment in our economy.

Ports North chairman Russell Beer said the project team will now work through all the required close-out matters over the coming months to bring an official end to thee Cairns Shipping Development Project.

“This will certainly mark a special moment for the organisation,” Mr Beers said.

“This project has been many years in the making and the outcomes clearly demonstrate the ability of Ports North to undertake major capital projects including capital dredging works to deliver economic benefits while protecting the environment.

“It has at times been challenging, frustrating but inevitably hugely satisfying. Our project team must be congratulated for its flexible and innovative thinking and good old tenacity in getting the project over the line.

“We can only look forward to a time, hopefully in the near future, when we begin to see the projected benefits this project will bring to Cairns and the region,” he said.

Minister for regional development Glenn Butcher said the project would open up a new chapter for the local marine industry, with vessels up to 300m including visiting naval ships, cargo carriers and cruise ships could now enter the port.

“It is expected to add $144.6m in value to the Queensland economy every year as we unite and recover for Queensland jobs,” Mr Butcher said.

“A deeper and wider shipping channel also provides the potential for the Royal Australian Navy’s larger ships and US naval carriers to berth in Cairns, enabling future expansion of defence activities in the region.”

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Project timeline:

June 2018 – expressions of interest sought for Cairns Shipping Development project

December 2018 – the Palaszczuk Government approves project business case

April 2019 – construction starts on pipeline to transfer dredged silt and mud

July 2019 – project to dredge around 800,000 cubic metres of mud and silt begins

August 2019 – contract for wharves refurbishment announced

September 2019 – dredging complete

May 2020 – wharves refurbishment and Cairns Shipping Development project complete

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