TRAILING suction hopper dredge Brisbane will soon be heading to Weipa to begin maintenance dredging at the Cape York port.

The works are expected to start late this month and take up to four weeks to complete.

This will be the first instance of maintenance dredging occurring at the Port of Weipa under North Queensland Bulk Ports’ new 10-year Commonwealth permit.

NQBP said there is a range of conditions that help to protect the marine environment included in the permit. Environmental monitoring and management measures will be implemented throughout the campaign to minimise the risk of any potential impacts on the marine environment.

NQBP has managed the annual maintenance dredging program at the Port of Weipa for more than 30 years.

The bulk port handles more than 30 million tonnes of cargo, most of which are bauxite exports.

NQBP CEO Nicolas Fertin said the dredge vessel TSHD Brisbane is due to begin work from late April 2021.

“Maintenance dredging works are an integral part of port operations. In the same way we maintain roads and rail lines for freight transport, we need to look after our port infrastructure to keep trade flowing,” Mr Fertin said.

“Regular maintenance dredging ensures efficient, navigable shipping depths for our port users. It’s undertaken by port authorities around the world and is critical for maintaining port infrastructure.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the Port of Weipa plays an important role in the region’s economy.

“Weipa is the largest community on the Cape York Peninsula, and the port is a major drive of our economy – especially as we continue our recovery from COVID-19,” Ms Lui said.

“We’re building a better Peninsula Developmental Road, investing in more infrastructure across all our cape communities and making sure our freight industries can continue safely navigate to the port.”

Dredging is also to be carried out at Amrun on behalf of Rio Tinto.