T-Ports commences construction on Lucky Bay port

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Lock farmer Caroline Longmire tips the first load onto the port site for ground improvement tasks. Picture: Supplied
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Lock farmer Caroline Longmire tips the first load onto the port site for ground improvement tasks. Picture: Supplied

Earthworks have begun at the Lucky Bay grain port site as T-Ports aims to complete construction ahead of the 2019-20 harvest.

Concrete and structural steel works will commence in the upcoming weeks, while the bunker sites at Lucky Bay and Lock are near completion and the bunker walls at Lock are fully installed.

The completed $130 million project will feature bunker storage of approximately 500,000 tonnes, steel silos at the port holding approximately 24,000 tonnes, port receival and loading facilities, a transhipment vessel with a 3,500 tonne capacity and a fertiliser import and storage facility.

T-Ports chief executive officer Kieran Carvill said the company was committed to using local contractors where possible, including Eyre Peninsula businesses.

"We've hired local companies like Lienert Engineering, Lucas Total Contract Solutions, Ahrens, Kilic Engineering and Buttrose Earthmovers in construction along with local carriers freighting materials," he said.

Mr Carvill said the use of transhipment technology had given the project a lower build cost and environmental footprint than traditional export port facilities, making the project easier to get off the ground.

"This model means growers can access multiple small ports that can load vessels up to and including Panamax, allowing product to be exported profitably," he said.

T-Ports believe grain growers will save from $5 to $20 per tonne in freight costs depending on their proximity to Lucky Bay.

T-Ports will begin a recruitment drive in coming months to staff sites for harvest this year.

Mr Carvill said T-Ports believed the project would make a "very serious positive difference" to the Eyre Peninsula.

"We want to see employment come back," he said.

"There will be a lot of side services that are needed and there will be housing needed, so it should give a real boost to the local economy."