'Bright future': Beans, chickpeas, coal key to Gladstone growth
THE future of the Port of Gladstone, now Queensland's largest, depends on chickpeas, mungbeans and South Burnett coal.
Chief executive officer Peter O'Sullivan said upgrades to roads and rail and Gladstone's harbour were essential to the port's growth, after it surpassed Hay Point to be Queensland's largest port this year, handling 120.4 million tonnes.
For him, the port's "very bright future" depends on new connections to farming-rich regions such as Emerald and to the prosperous coal area at South Burnett.
He wants to take half of the 168,000 trucks that travel from central Queensland to Brisbane to export agriculture and divert them to the harbour city.
Graincorp's project to turn Emerald into a "logistics hub" is essential to the port's expansion into containers filled with food such as meat, chickpeas and mungbeans that Mr O'Sullivan said would become the "big movers".
"Gladstone has a real opportunity to increase on the 9000 containers we did last year," he said.
"By exporting beef, mungbeans and chickpeas, the number of containers we export will double, triple or even quadruple in coming years," he said.
To handle the increased traffic, Port Access Road stage two upgrade - providing a direct route to Blain Dr via Port Access Rd - would need to become a reality.
"Our view is we shouldn't be waiting until this becomes a traffic hazard, we should be planning for the Port Access Rd upgrade now," he said.
Potential also lies with the touted extension of the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail to Gladstone, which Mr O'Sullivan supports.
The connection would also make sending coal from the Surat Basin to Gladstone easier, as the South Burnett Coal Project progresses.
"It would provide a longer term proposition for less congestion into the Brisbane centre, closer links to Asia and a wonderful outcome for Gladstone," he said.
Mr O'Sullivan said Gladstone Port was a likely choice for increased coal exports, with Brisbane ruled out.
"When you talk to governments and people in Brisbane, the chances of additional coal being railed through the Brisbane network is zero," he said.
"So we believe all of that coal from the Surat Basin, as it's required and comes online, the logical place to send it is Gladstone."