PTI goes down under in the next instalment of our ‘Top Ports’ series, this time shedding light on the biggest and best ports in Australia.
Despite summer lockdowns due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, ports across the country remained open and still managed to have a successful year.
Due to its strategic South Pacific location, Australia is a key player in international shipping.
“As an island nation, Australia’s ports have always been our gateway to the world, with 98 per cent of the nation’s trade volume moving by sea,” said Marika Calfas, CEO of Port Botany, in a recent statement to PTI.
Honourable mention – Port of Port Hedland
Just shy of making our list of ‘Top 5 Ports in Australia 2021’ is the Port of Port Hedland, operated by the Pilbara Ports Authority.
According to its monthly trade documents, the port handled 15,209 TEU in 2021.
Back in February 2020, the port authority signed a four-year contract to provide HR Wallingford with integrated pilot and tug master training.
5. Darwin Port
Kicking off our list is Darwin Port, Australia’s closest port to Asia and the nation’s “northern gateway” for Australasian trade.
Officials from the port recently told PTI that in calendar year 2021, a total of 20,707 TEU passed through its facilities. This included 11,442 TEU in loaded imports and a further 9,265 TEU in exports.
4. Port of Fremantle
During its 12-month 2021 period, the Port of Fremantle handled 778,614 TEU.
Based in the city of Perth, the port handles almost all of the container trade for Western Australia but also has facilities for livestock exports, motor vehicle imports, other general cargo trades, cruise ships and visiting naval vessels.
Near the end of the year, the Port of Rotterdam signed an agreement with the McGowan Government in Western Australia to collaborate on the development of the hydrogen supply chain.
3. Port of Brisbane
Port of Brisbane is yet another port in the country that had a very productive year, processing 1,554,061 TEU in calendar year 2021.
For 2021, Brisbane received 730,252 TEU on imports. The port exported 723,951 TEU for the 12-month period – over half of which were empty containers.
Jamie Wardle, Trade Development Executive at the Port of Brisbane, said that around AU$500 million ($362 million) of CAPEX investment has been made at Brisbane since privatisation in 2010. He also said the port is allocating another AU$680 million ($493 million) between 2019 and 2023, including AU$89 million ($64.5 million) for future port expansion, and AU$42 million ($30.5 million) to develop wharf infrastructure to accommodate larger vessels.
2. Port Botany
After going through its monthly trade reports, PTI worked out Port Botany’s total container throughput for 2021 to be 2,761,769 TEU, this was later confirmed by port officials.
Located in South-Eastern Sydney, Botany is the largest container port in the state of New South Wales and Australia’s largest common user bulk liquids facility.
“With the impact of COVID-19 and increased consumer goods purchasing, awareness of our ports’ role in supporting the nation’s economy and the lifestyles of Australians has grown significantly,” Calfas told PTI.
“Port Botany in NSW remained resilient throughout COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021, operating 24/7 to service businesses and the community, and to keep our economy moving.
“We saw growth in container volumes throughout the year, the primary driver of which was container imports, which increased as Australians continued to spend on furniture, electrical items, white goods and home renovation projects instead of travel experiences. Building material imports also increased, reflecting Sydney’s busy construction activities.
“Port Botany is well equipped to handle NSW’s current container freight requirements, with capacity to handle more than double current volumes into the future.”
The port recently saw a record-breaking berthing with the safe arrival of the MSC Asya, the deepest and heaviest container ship to ever dock at the port.
1. Port of Melbourne
Topping this instalment of our ‘Top Ports’ series is the Port of Melbourne.
As the country’s largest port for containerised cargo, it is only natural for Melbourne to take the top spot, handling 3,278,635 TEU in 2021.
A spokesperson from the port told PTI: “Port of Melbourne has continued to operate every day of the year during the pandemic.
“While the port has not been immune to the global supply chain challenges of manufacturing shutdown, container shortages and increased demand for consumer goods, we have worked hard to keep freight moving.
“The local workforce has been impacted at times as well, but the industry has worked incredibly hard to mitigate these challenges, and we’re proud to have processed more than 3 million TEU over the past year, consolidating our position as Australia’s largest container and general cargo port.
“Our 2050 Port Development Strategy is our roadmap to respond to anticipated future growth at the port, including some nine key projects that respond to global trends and meet future freight volumes.”
In recent months, rail has come to the forefront of the port’s initiatives as it awarded a construction contract to move ahead with its Port Rail Transformation Project (PRTP).
In a statement from December 2021, the port said it had “broken ground” on this project. Completion is scheduled for mid-2023.