HALL Contracting has been awarded the largest contact of the $232m Channel Upgrade Project for the Port of Townsville.

The works include capital dredging to widen 14.9 kilometres of sea channels over two years and reclamation of 62 hectares of land through beneficial reuse of dredged material.

Employing a local workforce of more than 70 full-time employees, the contract follows the extensive work over the past 18 months to build a 2.2-kilometre rock perimeter wall to receive the material.

Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said Queensland-based Hall Contracting had partnered with Townsville-based Pacific Marine Group to offer extensive experience in dredging and reclamation.

“Hall Contracting has presented the best offer to complete the works,” Ms Crosby said.

“Their strong commitment to local industry and First Nations people’s participation as well as employment and learning opportunities for tertiary students, apprentices and trainees presents significant opportunities for our region.

“Over the course of the project they will provide meaningful training across a range of vocations including vessel crew, marine engineers, diesel fitters, hydraulic fitters, boilermakers, earthmoving operators and dredge operators,” she said.

“We regard this project as one of the most iconic dredging projects in Australia’s history and an important step in the development of both the Port of Townsville and the city itself.”

Hall Contracting CEO Cameron Hall said, “Our recently acquired backhoe dredge, Woomera, is the largest Australian-owned dredge of its kind and will arrive in Townsville to commence works next year”.

Pacific Marine Group CEO Kevin Chard said, “We are a born and bred North Queensland company who have operated in Townsville for more than 25 years”.

“PMG is committed to local employment and development of our youth through partnerships with locals such as NRL Cowboys House and Tec-NQ,” Mr Chard said.

The Channel Upgrade project is to widen the current shipping channel from 92-metres to 180-metres at the inshore (port) end, tapering to 120-metres wide in the Sea Channel, increasing the size of cargo, cruise and defence vessels able to access the Port of Townsville. Hall Contracting is expected to begin capital dredging in May 2021.