A recent government report claiming Queensland’s three coal ports are only operating at roughly 50% capacity has prompted World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) Australia to call for a halt on all new port developments on the Great Barrier Reef.
Released in late October last year, the Queensland Government report Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy Economic Analysis found “… that our existing port capacity can handle the traffic volume in terms of ship calls with current proposed improvements and expansions, for the years up to 2022.”
However despite the report’s finding, in December the Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning called for registrations of interest for the expansion of the Abbot Point Port in North Queensland.
WWF Australia spokesperson, Nick Heath called the expansion plans ‘ludicrous’
“Utilisation of Abbot Point, in particular, has been declining over the past three years. It was operating at just 27% capacity last year,” Mr Heath said.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney defended the Abbot Point expansion claiming it was needed to ‘future proof’ the industry.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review the Deputy Premier said “Port infrastructure must be planned and constructed to meet the demands of resource projects far into the future,”
“Quite simply, our resource sector would be totally uncompetitive if companies waited until demand emerged before providing export infrastructure.”
The government report shows the total number of ships on the Great Barrier Reef is expected to increase by 3% per year, according to historical trends, reaching a maximum traffic volume of 4641 ship calls by 2022.
Approximately 97 per cent of Queensland’s coal exports leave through ports located in the Great Barrier Reef. Hay Point accounted for 56 per cent of coal exports, Gladstone accounted for 34 per cent and Abbot Point accounted for 10 per cent.