INTERNATIONAL shipping line COSCO today (19 October) begins a new fortnightly service directly linking Townsville with destinations in China, northern Australia and the South Pacific.

The CAP (China/Australia/Pacific) service will create additional opportunities and improved efficiencies for northern Australia’s mining, construction and retail industries.

Port of Townsville chief operating officer Drew Penny said the service would strengthen ties with Townsville’s leading trade locations by offering more comprehensive coverage of the Port’s most popular trading routes.

“Approximately 75% of the Port of Townsville’s annual trade is with Asia, and up to 25% specifically with China,” said Mr Penny.

“The additional services will enable flow-on benefits for the people of northern Australia including greater connectivity, more efficient supply chains, and cost-savings on a large range of project cargo and general goods.”

Exports from Townsville to China are dominated by mineral concentrates and containerised refined metals, while China to Townsville imports are led by a diverse range of general cargo including containerised mining consumables, solar panels, iron, steel materials, furniture and household goods.

In addition to directly connecting Townsville with ports in Darwin, Yangpu, Hong Kong, Port Moresby, Cebu and Lae, the service would utilise its ports in China to link with supply chains across the world. Yangpu port will act as a tranship hub for cargo between Townsville and north-east Asia, south-east Asia and south Asia, while Hong Kong will be the tranship hub for rest of the world.

The new service is well-timed for the Port of Townsville, following the recent construction of a container and cargo terminal at Berth 4.

“Since 2016, the Port of Townsville has invested more than $70m to upgrade the wharf on Berth 4 and construct the new terminal, effectively doubling the berth’s container handling capacity,” said Mr Penny.

“It is encouraging to see the opportunities for growth in containerised cargo flowing with this new service.”

COSCO joins ANL Container Line, PAE Mariana and Swire Shipping to directly link north Queensland to the rest of the world.