NORTH Queensland Bulk Ports has awarded non-exclusive towage licences to Engage Marine and Smit Lamnalco for the ports of Abbot Point and Mackay, respectively.

NQBP chief executive officer Nicolas Fertin said the arrangements support NQBP’s responsibility as a port authority and will provide the framework required for safe and efficient port operations for now and into the future.

Engage Marine at Abbot Point

Mr Fertin said the new arrangement with Engage Marine will assist NQBP in meeting current and future trade requirements and foster improved environmental management and supply chain optimisation.

“NQBP recognises and acknowledges the service provided by Port of Abbot Point’s current towage service provider, Bowen Towage Services,” he said.

“Regional employment was a requirement of the licence and Engage Marine will maintain the existing four-person crewing arrangement of the tug vessels.”

Engage Marine CEO Mark Malone said the company is proud to be selected to provide towage services for the Port of Abbot Point and is committed to meeting with all stakeholders, including representatives of the current workforce in the port, at the earliest opportunity.

“We will work closely with the workforce and their representatives so that the current towage workforce in Abbot Point will be offered first priority of continuing their roles in the port,” Mr Malone said.

“A heavy emphasis will be placed on employment from the Bowen area and to avoid FIFO where possible.”

Mr Malone said Engage Marine would respect and maintain the current employment terms and conditions for individuals by agreeing an enterprise agreement to cover our requirements across the Port of Abbot Point operation.

“Engage Marine will be introducing three new state-of-the-art tugs as part of the service offering to NQBP and our mutual customers, and we will be seeking suitably qualified and experienced locals to both operate and maintain these vessels to the highest standards.”

Smit Lamnalco at Mackay

“For Smit Lamnalco, this means an extension of their current services at the Port of Mackay, under a new non-exclusive licence,” Mr Fertin said.

“Regional employment was a requirement of the licence and SMIT Lamnalco will maintain the existing three-person crewing arrangement of the tug vessels.”

Smit Lamnalco CEO Robert Jan Van Acker said the company is proud to have again been selected to provide towage services for the Port of Mackay.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with NQBP in providing an essential service to the Port of Mackay and its customers,” he said.

“Under the licence, the workforce will operate under employment relations management plans consistent with Fair Work Australia approvals and enterprise bargaining agreements. All current Smit Lamnalco employees in Mackay will be offered the option of continuing their roles working for us under the current employment terms and conditions.”

NQBP followed a competitive and comprehensive tender process consistent with the Queensland Procurement Policy, with multiple companies submitting proposals to operate services at the ports.