UNCERTAINTY surrounds when Thevenard Port will re-open, with Flinders Ports unable to give a definitive timeframe as to when a section of the jetty could be fixed.
The concrete jetty, which supports Viterra’s ship-loading conveyor belt, was closed on June 28 due to deterioration, possibly from severe storms late last year.
Flinders Ports chief executive officer Vincent Tremaine met with government representatives on Tuesday, including Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan, Ceduna mayor Allan Suter, Regional Development Australia EP CEO Dion Dorward and an Agriculture Minister representative, to discuss possible short and long-term solutions.
“A short-term solution will take a few more days to finalise because we need to complete structural designs,” he said.
“Meanwhile, we have moved equipment, – a barge and a crane – needed to fix the jetty to Thevenard, while materials needed to fix the problem have been ordered.
“We are always maintaining our ports, but this did catch us off guard.”
Iluka Resources, Cheetham Salt, Gypsum Resources Australia and Viterra are regular users of the port.
Viterra Operations general manager Tim Krause said the company was liaising closely with Flinders Ports and was working with affected export customers to investigate alternate supply chain options.
“We have moved upcoming grain vessels to alternate ports,” he said.
“Flinders Ports has not yet outlined a timeframe for recommencing operations at Thevenard.
“Despite this, Viterra will work closely with our Strategic Site Committee Chairs and local growers in the region to minimise the potential impacts.
“We are also working closely with local employees to manage the impact on their roles.”
Mr Tremaine guaranteed the port would be fixed before the next grain harvest.
Member for Flinders Peter Treloar, who also attended the meeting on Tuesday, said the short-term fix would ideally be completed within three months.
“The damage is mainly at the beginning of the wharf structure, with the concrete supports of the conveyor belt the problem, but all the product that goes out of Thevenard is serviced by that one conveyor,” he said.
“That includes 2 million tonnes of gypsum, plus grain, salt and mineral sands.
“GRA will be the most affected, as there are three trains of gypsum a day that come into Thevenard and two ships a week go out of Thevenard, mostly to the eastern seaboard for the building industry, so they’ll have to source their product from somewhere else for a short period.”
“There is also a concern about local jobs related to the port and how they will be affected.”
Mr Treloar said the port closure was “a bit of a wake up call”.
“Almost 10 years ago there was an EP ports masterplan in the works and nothing has really progressed since then,” he said.
“It’s time we took a long-term view on investment into port infrastructure.”
Grain Producers SA said it was meeting with Viterra on Friday to discuss when the port may re-open, what effects it would have on the exporting program out of Thevenard and what happens to growers that have grain in the Thevenard port zone.
“Our main concern is that growers who have grain at Thevenard are not financially disadvantaged by the port closure,” he said.