PORT of Gladstone set to replace the oldest of the three machines at the RG Tanna Coal Terminal.  

The new shiploader is expected to secure the capacity of the coal terminal for another 25 years, ensuring the port can continue to meet the demands of coal customers.

The Queensland government’s $60 million investment in the project aligns with its stated commitment to the state’s resources sector.

“As the Port of Gladstone grows and diversifies to export the hydrogen electrolysers that Fortescue Future Industries will manufacture here, we know coal export will also be part of its future for decades to come,” treasurer and minister for trade and investment Cameron Dick said.

“The 36% rise in the value of Queensland coal exports from 2020 to 2021 played a significant role in the overall value of our exports, which rose to nearly $80 billion for the year.”

The machine will be built within Gladstone Ports Corporation’s Port Central Precinct, then transferred via heavy lift ship to the RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

Progress in the machine’s design is planned to commence in March this year, with commissioning scheduled for May 2024.

Glenn Butcher, state minister for regional development and manufacturing and minister for water, said the upgrade would benefit the state’s coal industry.

“We’re known as the port city, so it only makes sense that we invest in this industry, to make the coal export process as smooth as possible,” he said.

GPC chair Anthony Lynham said the shiploader build is a first for Gladstone and one of the most significant projects the port has undertaken.

“This is a once-in-a-career opportunity for our team due to the sheer lifespan of these assets, and to see the shiploader being fabricated right here at the port is a great achievement, not just for the port but for the community and for the state,” Dr Lynham said.

Mr Lynham said machines of this size are usually constructed overseas and imported to Australia, so its construction at Auckland Point will provide a boost for manufacturing in Queensland.

“It’s wonderful we have the infrastructure and resources to complete this significant project right here in Gladstone. Our people are some of the most skilled in the world and we are extremely proud we are able to deliver this project within the local economy,” he said.

“It not only shows confidence in future market demand for exports, but it’s great news in terms of jobs, trade, and the region’s prosperity as GPC plans for the next 50 years.”

Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett said the investment in local jobs demonstrates a strong future for the community’s resources sector.

“I believe Gladstone and Central Queensland have a bright future through more jobs in more industries. This investment is proof of that,” Mr Burnett said.