AN economic report has estimated a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle could provide a $6bn boost to the New South Wales Economy and significantly decrease truck trips through Sydney by 2050.

The report, Global Gateway for NSW: the economic impact of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle, Estimates that a container terminal in Newcastle would reduce the number of truck trips by up to 750,000 per year.

Also, the report, by economic consultancy AlphaBeta, estimates the hypothetical container terminal would decrease land transport costs for businesses in northern New South Wales by $2.8bn by 2050.

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said building a new container terminal had both environmental and economic benefits, especially given that 10% of Sydney’s annual vehicle-kilometres consists of heavy trucks.

“The report finds that Sydney could slash 20m truck-kilometres from its roads and reduce the combined cost of congestion and pollution by $25m each year,” he said.

“Reducing this unnecessary urban congestion also translates to cheaper freight costs for regional importers and exporters, many of which can look forward to savings of more than $500 per standard shipping container with their freight travelling through Newcastle rather than Port Botany or Port of Brisbane.”

The AlphaBeta report compared Newcastle with Port Botany and Port of Brisbane in terms of container transport costs and found that the savings using Newcastle ranged from $193 to $583 per TEU.

Mr Carmody said the world’s shipping companies were moving to very large vessels – those handling up to 18,000 TEU – that substantially reduce the cost per container.

“Australia’s east coast ports are unable to efficiently accommodate these large vessels, which are twice the size of the maximum the capital cities can handle,” Mr Carmody said.

“Port of Newcastle is regional Australia’s global gateway and already has the deep channel and the road and rail landside capacity to manage these super-sized container ships.

“There is strong interest in this opportunity from a number of globally-significant port operators, as well as from the community, which recognises the need to transition our economy and make Australia more globally-competitive.”

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Mr Carmody said the regional NSW economy was diversifying and the freight savings from a Newcastle Container Terminal would be enjoyed across many industries, from agriculture and food processing to advanced manufacturing and mining services.

At the report launch event today (11 December), Port of Newcastle chairman Roy Green said it had been an exciting couple of days for the port (referencing yesterday’s announcement from the ACCC), but the port was looking to the future with the AlphaBeta report.

Mr Green pointed out that 2019 was predicted to be the first year in the past 15 that mining would not make a net contribution to Australia’s GDP growth.

“We’ve got to ask ourselves: what are our future sources of export income?” he said.

“[Mining is] certainly important to the Port of Newcastle, our coal customers are our core business, but will that be the case forever?” We need to think into the future … and ask the question: what is the future structure of the Hunter region economy as we do for the Australian economy and the New South Wales economy?

“It’s got to be knowledge-based products and services; knowledge-based products that we can export through a world-class container port at Newcastle.”

See our next DCN magazine, due out in January 2019, for more in-depth coverage of the report and the planned container terminal in Newcastle in our feature on logistics & supply chains.

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