Tempo wins Rio Tinto Cape Lambert port expansion contract

Tempo has won an SMP contract for Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert port expansion project.

The $13.4 million contract will see Tempo Australia, through its subsidiary Tempo Construction and Maintenance, provide structural, mechanical, and piping miscellaneous works as well as commissioning support for Rio Tinto's expansion works at the port.

Tempo general manager Daniel Hibbs said the company is "pleased to have been given the opportunity to execute the miscellaneous SMP and commissioning support works at Cape Lambert".

This win is Tempo's first major contract directly with Rio Tinto.

Port jobs in the firing line as BHP review continues

An ongoing review at BHP Billiton’s iron ore operations could see thousands of jobs lost in Western Australia.

There are reports that BHP is looking to cut around 20 per cent of its WA workforce or close to 3000 jobs as it looks to improve costs at its iron ore business.

Any job cuts would come on top of the hundreds recently stripped out of the miner’s metal operations.

More than 100 workers were cut from the company’s iron ore headquarters in Perth last month, while 170 workers were chopped from Mt Whaleback mine in the Pilbara.

 The West Australian reports BHP’s Port Hedland port operations could see 100 job losses in the coming weeks.

While the company’s contractor workforce is also said to be in the firing line.

BHP is said to be acting on recommendations made in a report by management consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

A BHP spokeswoman confirmed the company had engaged external consultants, but refused to be drawn on exact numbers associated with any cost-cutting measures.

“BHP Billiton Iron Ore regularly undertakes improvement initiatives and organisational reviews as part of an ongoing focus on productivity and cost reduction,” she said.

The review is said to be aimed at ensuring BHP’s iron ore arm remains “a competitive, world-class operation.”

“We have been open with our employees about the work being done to improve productivity, and the review, and we hold regular all employee Town Hall meetings and question and answer sessions with the business leaders as a matter of course.”

As the mining phase moves from investment-led construction to a production focus, BHP has placed a renewed and aggressive emphasis on productivity and efficiency gains across its entire portfolio in an effort to simplify mining operations.

BHP said a productivity focus is “not new”.

Port of Newcastle privatised in $1.75 billion deal

Hastings Funds Management and its backer, China Merchants, have won a bid to lease the Port of Newcastle for $1.75 billion.

NSW Premier Mike Baird described the 98-year deal as a “momentous result”.

“Transactions such as this bring enduring benefits to communities and the economy…that will unlock opportunities for growth, jobs and economic development."

Baird said Hastings and China Merchants were “equal partners” in the investment, with the state government retaining responsibility for a range of maritime safety and security functions, including emergency response, harbour master, port safety operating licence and pilotage functions.

Around $340 million from the sale will be invested into upgrades for Newcastle’s CBD, while $1.2 billion is earmarked for various other infrastructure projects in NSW.

Newcastle is the world’s biggest coal export terminal with more than 2200 vessels passing through carrying more than 150 million tonnes of cargo in the past year.

The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed the announcement of the long term lease.

“We are pleased the day has arrived, this is a great result for the Hunter Region,” Hunter Business Chamber President Richard Anicich said.

He said the money put aside to revitalise Newcastle’s CBD “will go a long way to kickstarting the much needed rebuild of our city”.

The NSW Government reached an agreement with Port of Newcastle Investments for the lease following a competitive five-month bidding process.

Other groups reported to have been involved in bids included ATEC, Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Macquarie Infrastructure.

Port Botany and Port Kembla were privatised last year for $5 billion.

New stevedore begins operating in Queensland

Hutchison Ports Holdings, the third Australian stevedore, has begun operations in Brisbane.

The official opening of its Brisbane Container Terminals was performed by Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss late last week.

The new container terminal on reclaimed land on Fisherman’s Island in the Port of Brisbane is part of the Hutchison Port Holdings group, one of the largest port developers and operators in the world.

 HPH Deputy Chairman, Dr John Meredith, said he saw BCT as a significant player in Australia’s developing trade and the HPH network that spans 52 countries.

“We intend to be here for the long haul and we intend to make a difference,” he said. 

BCT Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Gumley, said that the new terminal’s strategic significance couldn't be underestimated.

“Brisbane Container Terminals is the first terminal operated by a third stevedore to service Australia’s important east coast container trade,” he said.

“This is a dramatic and positive change on the waterfront.

“Until now this market was the sole province of two companies. Now it is one in which three companies vie for shipping line business. This has to be good for shipping lines and their customers with greater value and better service.” 

Gumley said that Brisbane Container Terminals would play an important role in maximising the success of third stevedore operators in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Stand-alone operators will face considerable challenges in this market because typically the incumbent stevedores have tended to package ports in their offer to shipping lines or offer discounts based on national volumes.

“HPH with its investments in Brisbane and Sydney’s Port Botany is already providing a two-port alternative and we are seeking to extend that to three east coast ports.”

Port of Melbourne profit increase despite decrease in volume

Port of Melbourne Corporation recorded an overall profit $65.9 million for 2012-13 despite a small drop in trade of 1.6 per cent on the previous year.

Port of Melbourne Corporation’s (PoMC’s) 2012-13 Annual Report, tabled in the Victorian Parliament this week, showed that while container volumes declined slightly from last year’s record peaks, new motor vehicles, dry bulk and liquid trades all recorded growth.

The port handled a total of 2.51 million TEUs in the year to June 30, 2013, signalling a decrease of 2.6 per cent.

Container import volumes also fell due to soft retail conditions, however full overseas export containers recorded a modest increase of 0.6 per cent.

The Port of Melbourne handled over 370,000 new motor vehicles in 2012-13, up 3.6 per cent on the previous year.

Victoria’s Minister for Ports David Hodgett told parliament the port was in a strong position.

“PoMC has backed up a strong financial position and trade result with capital expenditure totalling $56.8 million including work on the Port Capacity Project, extensive wharf rehabilitation at Appleton Dock, together with a major redevelopment of the Port Operations Control Centre,” he said.

Trade summary:

  • Total trade of 85.6 million revenue tonnes (down 1.6 per cent).
  • Total container throughput of 2.51 million TEU (down 2.6 per cent).
  • 370,527 new motor vehicles handled (up 3.6 per cent).
  • Total dry bulk trade of 4.4 million revenue tonnes (up 4.4 per cent).
  • Total liquid bulk trade of 6.5 million revenue tonnes (up 2.6 per cent).

Protestors promise to hit Aurizon’s bottom line

Environmental groups opposed to the development of coal mines in the Galilee Basin have vowed to target the hip pockets of the financial backers of projects, starting with rail firm Aurizon.

Civil society groups have long made it clear they are opposed to GVK's Alpha Coal project involving two coal mines in the Galilee Basin, a 495 km standard gauge railway line as well as the port facilities at Abbot Point.

Protester Ben Penning said the only way to stop the project is to hurt financial backers of the project ,including Aurizon, who are pushing for rail-port infrastructure, ABC reported.

"Once they make that formal there's a lot of money involved and it's going to be harder to pull them back, so we're going to focus on Aurizon and let them know that as an environment movement we're going to cost them lots of time and money through political action, so that has to come to their financial calculations," he said.

"We don't expect any government to stop what's going ahead, so we want to affect the economics of the situation."

In March, Aurizon and GVK announced a partnership that will see them build $6 billion worth of rail and port infrastructure for mining projects in Queensland.

Under the new deal the two companies will build a 500km rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point, with Aurizon, formerly QR National, providing railway logistics and GVK providing financial backing.

The deal means Aurizon will take a 51 per cent share in Hancock Coal Infrastructure, which houses GVK Hancock's rail and port projects.

Many say the new network will help deliver access to the under-developed Galilee Basin, considered to be the new frontier in Queensland mining.

In July environmental groups sent Aurizon an open letter urging them to dump plans to buy GVK Hancock’s rail and port project, adding they will use any peaceful means necessary to stop the projects being built.

“The new rail and port proposals that Aurizon is considering buying equity in would be a disaster for the Great Barrier Reef and the climate” said Erland Howden, climate campaigner at Greenpeace.

“The new port will see massive dredging and many more ships passing through the Reef. And opening the Galilee Basin mines would see Australia making an even greater contribution to pushing global temperatures beyond safe levels”.

GVK coal managing director Paul Mulder has previously said his company is operating above the world’s best environmental benchmarks.

He said GVK spent $50 million for government-required environmental studies, using 250 scientists to ‘ensure the science, process and intended operations met those highest environmental standards’.

Three month delay on Abbot Point expansion decision

The decision to expand Abbot Point Coal terminal has again been delayed as Environment Minister Mark Butler assess the impacts of dredging around the area.

It is the second time a decision on the expansion has been postponed.

A final decision on the project was first expected in July, but Mark Butler said he needed more time to assess the impacts after only just taking over from Tony Burke as Environment Minister.

On Friday, Butler again delayed giving the project the green light after being handed new reports on the possible impacts of the expansion.

Butler said the decision would be postponed for three more months.

"A number of reports have only just been delivered to me, which potentially impact on the Abbot Point assessment," Butler said.

"The various, significant environmental imperatives must be considered, as does the potential for jobs growth, which is vital for a range of coastal and inland communities.

"In order for these matters to be fully considered I have stopped the clock on my department's assessment of the Abbot Point Capital Dredging proposal for a period of three months.

"This does not prevent a decision being made earlier if I believe I have enough information to make an informed decision.''

There is strong support from Bowen locals who want to see the expansion go ahead with more than 600 hundred people attending a rally last month urging the Federal Government to back the project.

Bruce Hedditch from the Bowen Business Chamber said the expansion would create jobs and economic stability to the region.

"We need this to further cement our economic stability by having a good export facility at Abbot Point," he said.

"If it doesn't go ahead, we're going to be like all other communities in Australia, we're going to be struggling."

Queensland Resource Council chief Michael Roche, said he was not surprised with that a decision has been deferred.

"It was always going to be difficult for him to make a calm and reasoned decision in the hothouse political environment of an election campaign," Roche said.

Greenpeace called the delay a "missed opportunity'' claiming that dredging works present clear threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

''The Minister has timidly hand-balled the decision to whichever party is elected on September 7. Based on overwhelming evidence, Minister Butler should have rejected the dredging proposal outright,'' said Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Matthiesson.

The decision was welcomed by Greens candidate for Dawson Jonathon Dykyj.

"It's a welcome move that hopefully allows all the facts and impacts of the project to be considered," he said.

The $6.2 billion expansion of the coal port would see four additional coal terminals built; which would provide an extra annual capacity of 120 million tonnes and would support the developments in the Bowen, Surat, and Galilee Basins of Queensland.

Combined with other port expansions, this latest development would make Abbot Point one of the world’s largest coal ports, boasting seven terminals and a capacity of almost 300 million tonnes annually.

Image: theaustralian.com.au

Mineralogy to lose right as port operator

Clive Palmer’s company Mineralogy could lose its right to operate a new multi-billion dollar port in Western Australia amid concerns about the miner's ability to run the facility.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport is reportedly moving to strip Mineralogy as operator of Cape Preston port near Karratha.

The port has been built to ship iron ore from a $7 billion mine being developed by the Chinese company CITIC Pacific, with Palmer’s company granted operations rights to the port in January.

However The Australian reports the West Australian government is pressing for the rights to be revoked amid concerns over the company’s credentials with insiders claiming Mineralogy should not have been granted legal permission to run the port.

The move against Palmer’s company as operator is a major blow as it stood to make millions of dollars through exports at the port.

Palmer and CITIC Pacific are battling in Perth’s Supreme Court over a royalties dispute on the iron ore project, which is yet to export after huge budget blowouts and missed completion deadlines.

Palmer was set to receive royalties from the project after CITIC purchased the original tenements from him in 2006.

The Sino iron ore project has run into a spate of delays and cost blow-outs during the commissioning phase, and late last year the company blamed the skills shortage, bad weather, and the inexperience of its lead contractor for delays on the project.

The West Australian Government first sought to remove Mineralogy as a port operator in February, while CITIC has previously asked for treasons behind the appointment.

"We are aware of the issue and there is a process in place," Vivienne Ryan, a spokeswoman for the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet, said last night.

"We have nothing further to add."

Mineralogy was not available for comment at the time of publication.

Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal delayed as coal market slides

Poor conditions in the coal  industry continue to hamper mining developments as North Queensland Bulk Ports delay their Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal project.

Construction of the $12 billion coal port south of Mackay has been pushed back until 2015.

NQBP general manager of planning for Hay Point, Bob Brunner, said the demand for the two-coal-terminal development wasn’t strong enough given current coal market conditions, Daily Mercury reported.

"Because of the downturn in the coal market, a number of new mine developments in the Mackay region have been recently cancelled or deferred," Brunner said.

The year-long delay means no coal will be exported from the site until at least 2019.

"New port facilities will only be constructed if there is sufficient customer export demand to justify the large expenditure required," Brunner said.

"The industry will determine the timing of the project to meet their needs."

Some staff working on the project had been reshuffled within NQBP, Brunner said.

"NQBP had a small project team of three full-time staff and contractors, supported by a number of internal specialist staff as needed," he said.

"The contractors have left the project and one of the full-time project team members has been reallocated to other duties."

  Earlier this year Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin said the project was reliant on unstable commodity prices.

“It's uncertain times… the coal producer needs to have customers,” he said.

News of the delay has reignited calls from environmentalist groups to have the project dumped altogether.

Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the development was "unprecedented".

"The North Queensland Bulk Ports plan for Dudgeon Point should not just be delayed for a year, it should be rejected outright by the Queensland Government to protect the Reef and Reef-related tourism," Ms Wishart said.

"Mega-ports will mean more ship movements, which increases the risk of groundings, and more dredging and dumping for shipping channels."

Glencore Xstrata last month dumped plans to develop a coal export terminal on Balaclava Island, blaming the decision on poor market conditions.

Xstrata Coal had been studying the potential for a new coal export terminal at Balaclava Island over the past three years.

“The decision has been made as a result of the poor current market conditions in the Australian coal industry, excess port capacity in Queensland, specific shipping limitations and concerns about the industry’s medium-term outlook,” the company said in a statement.

New tug boats part of Rio Tinto capacity expansion

Rio Tinto have invested $90 million in an upgrade to their tug and line boat fleet as part of a planned 290 million tonnes capacity increase at its Pilbara operations.

Rio Tinto Pilbara Supply Chain chief operating office Clayton Walker said the tugs would add to the capability of Rio’s existing fleet.

“These new tugs are bigger, stronger, faster and more stable in the water compared to their predecessors, and this delivery heralds a milestone in the history of Rio Tinto’s port operations as the biggest tug build the company has undertaken,” Walker said.

The new tugs feature many design improvements and upgrades.

They have an 80 tonne bollard pull compared to the existing vessels-rated at 64 tonnes, a different hull shape which increases stability and a variable pitch propeller enabling greater control.

Each tug is worth around $15 million, and built in Turkey.  They travelled 29,000kms by sea, taking 70 days to reach Australia.

On average Rio Tinto tugs assist four or five ship loadings a day across Cape Lambert, Parker Point and East Intercourse Island terminals – around 1500 ship movements a year.

To house the new tugs, Rio Tinto has also built new tug pens with the capacity to berth four vessels.

Senior Rio executives took delivery of the first tugboat to arrive in the Pilbara last month, and officially opened the Yigara Bridge situated between Cape Lambert operations and the town of Wickham.

Rio Tinto’s managing director Expansion Projects David Joyce said the bridge was built to ensure the safe passage of road users as they cross the eight line railway network coming in and out of Cape Lambert. 

Rio Tinto announced last week the construction of another bridge on the North West Coastal Highway which will also provide safe passage across this same rail network.

“Yigara Bridge is an impressive structure that was named by the Ngarluma elders and means “Mangrove”, and we are very proud to feature artwork panels on the bridge that were designed and painted by Roebourne Art Group artists,” Joyce said.

The bridge on average is 10 metres high from the top of rail formation to top of road surface and the pre-cast reinforced concrete beams and concrete abutment panel walls were manufactured in Perth and transported by road to site.

The expansion to Cape Lambert port is part of the Robe River Iron Associates joint venture consisting of Rio Tinto, Mitsui, and Nippon Steel Sumitomo Metal Industries.

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