PORT of Geraldton handled a total of 17.4 million tonnes of cargo over the 2022-23 financial year ­– an increase of 6% on the previous year – according to Mid West Ports’ recently released annual report.

MWPA Board chair Noel Hart said: “This was achieved with the safety of our people as our highest priority and a dedicated focus on embedding a strategic, proactive, and preventative approach, aimed at providing reliable and efficient port services and activities as safely as possible”.

Mid West Ports said the Port Maximisation Project (PMaxP) has made significant progress with the appointment of BG&E Resources in September 2022, to execute the detailed design of the project and the supervision, management and co-ordination of construction.

In the nine months to July 2023, the project has undertaken validation of proposed engineering solutions, defined requirements to meet future trade requirements, and commenced detailed design of materials handling, storage, marine infrastructure, and network infrastructure improvements.

 “Complimenting the PMaxP will be several key projects focused on business improvement and maximisation of efficiencies, this has included the construction of a new roundabout on Marine Terrace and the realignment of some internal roads to improve access,” Mr Hart said.

“Embedding sustainability across port operations is another key focus for the organisation, and for the second year running, we have delivered our Annual Report with a focus on our sustainability pillars of people, planet and prosperity. We have also committed to improved reporting mechanisms and voluntarily undertook a Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) Infrastructure Assessment to understand our current performance and future opportunities better.”

Mid West Ports said a specific focus on improving air quality at both the Commercial and Fishing Boat Harbours was taken during 2022-23, and several initiatives were implemented during the year including modelling of wind and dust dispersion, installation of a DustTamer fence along Marine Terrace, refurbishment and recommissioning of loading dust suppression equipment and improved dust extraction systems within the ports material handling facility.

MWPA CEO Damian Tully said: “MWPA is committed to improving air quality at our sites and while considerable work has been achieved, we recognise there is more to be done and we continue to identify opportunities and work closely with our port users to improve the management of their product transfer”.

A key deliverable of the 2020 Port of Geraldton Master Plan, was a Fishing Boat Harbour (FBH) Development Plan and in March 2023, after considerable stakeholder engagement, the FBH Development Plan was endorsed by the Minister for Ports.

The plan outlines the strategic direction for the FBH over the next 15+ years and aims to increase the operability of the harbour for existing and new businesses and industries, while also providing more opportunities for the broader Geraldton community.

Mr Tully said: “Our vision for the FBH is to facilitate quality trade and tourism opportunities through a strong focus on people, place and planet. A key component of this is to ensure continued safe navigation into the harbour and in late 2022 we undertook maintenance dredging to continue this access”.

The FBH Maintenance Dredging Project returned the FBH approach channel to design depths and width, removed sediment from Lives Beach and achieved 100% beneficial reuse of the dredged material. It is expected no further dredging will be required in the FBH entrance area for 18-24 months.

In May 2023, MWPA’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan was endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, providing a comprehensive framework outlining deliverable actions for the organisation.

“Formalising our reconciliation journey is a vital first step in acknowledging the cultures, histories, knowledge and insights of the people and communities on whose land and waters we operate. I look forward to the ripple effects of understanding our sphere of influence and the unique contribution we can make to reconciliation in our region”, Mr Tully said.

After nearly three years, cruise tourism returned to Geraldtopn with a maiden visit from Noordam on 1 December 2022, followed by a further 10 cruise ship visits.

“Bringing cruise into the port requires considerable coordination across our operational team to ensure a smooth and successful visit. Once ashore, a total of 11,240 passengers and crew were welcomed and greeted by our fabulous team of volunteers. Our volunteers play a pivotal role in the passenger experience, and I extend a sincere thanks once again for their efforts,” Mr Tully said.