Townsville Port expansion is a long-term development project being undertaken by the Queensland Government. The port expansion project (PEP) mainly involves a channel upgrade and development of up to six new berths and reclamation area.

Townsville Port is the largest sugar, zinc, lead, copper, and fertiliser port of the country and also the biggest container and automotive port in Northern Australia.

Queensland Coordinator-General approved the environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted for the Townsville PEP in September 2017, while the Federal Government authorised the EIS in February 2018.

Construction on the PEP was commenced in November 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2040.

Townsville Port recorded a net profit of $15.01m during 2017-18, with an overall trade volume of 7.3 million tons (Mt). It also received 12 cruise ships with approximately 13,000 passengers and crew.

Townsville Port expansion project details

The proposed Townsville Port expansion will accommodate future trading growth and address current capacity constraints of the port. The project is also expected to improve cruise tourism with the capacity to accommodate ships up to 300m. It will also reduce freight costs for consumers and producers in North Queensland.

Expansion of the port will include capital dredging of 11.48 million cubic metres of sediment to widen and deepen the Sea and Platypus Channels and extension of harbour basin.

It will involve the creation of 152ha of reclamation area and construction of 4km of rock revetments. A 700m-long western breakwater will also be built as part of the expansion.

The project will also create up to six new berths, which will include berth 12 used for ship operations, while berths 14-18 will be used for cargo.

“The first stage of the Townsville PEP includes $193m channel capacity upgrade, which will widen the shipping channels in order to accommodate larger Panamax-size ships.”

Road and rail infrastructure will be developed within the project area and will be connected to the Townsville eastern access corridor (EAC). The approach channel near the outer harbour entrance will be widened. New navigational aids and services infrastructure will also be installed.

The dredged material will be placed in the approved dredge material placement area in Cleveland Bay.

Townsville Port expansion will create approximately 152ha of reclaimed land to provide bulk cargo storage space, a rail loop, and berths, which will be formed by material sourced from the harbour deepening and mainland sources.

A new western breakwater will be constructed in order to protect the outer harbour. The project will also deepen the existing Sea and Platypus approach channels.

Channel capacity upgrade details

The first stage of the Townsville PEP includes $193m channel capacity upgrade, which will widen the shipping channels in order to accommodate larger Panamax-size ships.

Construction on the channel upgrade is expected to be started in the second quarter of 2019 and is scheduled for completion in 2023. It is expected to create 120 full-time jobs in Townsville during construction.

Preliminary works of the channel upgrade project will include site preparation, earthworks, and installation of site offices.

Dredging works will be performed in the Inner Platypus Channel area, the Outer Platypus Channel, and the Sea Channel.

Townsville Port expansion project financing

The estimated cost of the project is $1.64bn, which is being contributed through state and federal funding.

Port of Townsville received $75m funding towards the Townsville channel capacity upgrade in September 2018.

Contractors involved in Townsville Port expansion project

The contract for a new site access entrance and installation of water and sewer services was awarded to CES Civil.

Clarks, Thyxco, Hallorans, and Markwell are responsible for the stockpile site preparation works, while Ausco provides site accommodation services for the project.