Figures released by Port of Newcastle (PoN) reveal a shift in weather and demand has had a significant impact on its diversified trade results for 2023.
CEO Craig Carmody says the overall trade figure, which contributed $48 billion to the economy, is not representative of a reduction in import and export volumes across our diversified trade.
“Overall, Port of Newcastle had an increase of almost five per cent on total trade volume, which can be attributed to the return of China to the Australian coal market, representing a quarter of all coal exports,” adds Craig.
“The Port’s exposure to carrying volume risk is evident, put simply, if China did not lift their restrictions, the Port’s volumes would have been the lowest experienced in several years.
“For Port of Newcastle and our region, we need to ensure we continue down our path of diversification. Last year’s results highlight how we cannot continue to rely on a single commodity, we cannot wait and relive what occurred when the steel industry left Newcastle.”
Executive Manager of Business Development Matthew Swan says a reduction in diversified trade export volumes reflected the current challenges facing the market.
“After three years of ideal harvest conditions for agribusiness, the shift to El Niño has had a direct impact on our farmers, with wheat exports down 34 per cent to 1.7 million tonnes, with volumes subdued for CY2024,” explains Matthew.
“It’s the first-time wheat has been under two million tonnes since 2021. Meals and grain exports continued to perform well, with a 31 per cent increase in volumes (629,006 tonnes), and mineral concentrates experienced modest growth, with a total 397,000 tonnes exported.”
The 2023 trade figures come at a time when Port of Newcastle has been vocal in the need for the Port and region to accelerate diversification.
“2024 will be a year of consolidation and focus, one that focuses on expanding our existing container trade relationships, supporting wind and solar energy projects, along with development of the Clean Energy Precinct,” says Craig.
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