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

Earthworks have begun at the Lucky Bay grain port site as T-Ports aims to complete construction ahead of the 2019/2020 harvest.

Concrete and structural steel works will commence in weeks to follow.

Bunker sites at Lucky Bay and Lock are near completion, with bunker walls at Lock fully installed.

The completed $130 million project will feature bunker storage of about 500,000 tonnes, steel silos at the port holding about 24,000 tonnes, port receival and loading facilities, a transhipment vessel with a 3500-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 and Eyre Peninsula businesses where possible.

"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 is estimating grain growers will save from $5 to $20 per tonne in freight costs depending on their proximity to Lucky Bay.

Farmers in the Kimba district are expected to save around $10 per tonne, with farmers in the Cleve district predicted to save between $10 and $15 per tonne.

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."