SA’s grower-owned agribusiness Free Eyre Limited and Australian-based transshipping design, construction and project management company Sea Transport Corporation today announced their plans to jointly develop the Spencer Gulf Transshipping enterprise.
The joint venture company Spencer Gulf Trust will bring together the global expertise of Sea Transport’s transshipping technology with Free Eyre’s graingrower shareholders and clients, in building a bulk commodity transshipping terminal and enterprise at Lucky Bay, using state-of- the-art, shallow draft transshipping vessels to load larger cargo vessels moored in Spencer Gulf.
Financial modeling suggests that, when compared to the incumbent charging regime, savings will average between $10 to 19 a tonne, depending on individual grower’s freight costs to port, in the Lucky Bay catchment zone.
Across the past 10 years, an average of one million tonnes of grain has been produced within this catchment zone.
It is anticipated that Wallaroo will be the second stage with similar facilities designed to receive, store and export both grain and fertiliser. With the establishment of this enterprise the majority of the SA wheat belt will enjoy new competition in the supply chain.
The development of this transshipping project will also mean an increase in business and employment opportunities in the regional coastal port zones, which flows through to these rural communities through increased investment, value adding opportunities and the creation of at least 50 full-time equivalent positions.
Funding (A$80 - A$90 million) for this joint venture project between Sea Transport Corporation and Eyre Peninsula farmers is being negotiated, but is well-advanced.
It is expected that a proportion of funding for the project will be secured against a through-put based equity contribution of approximately $3-4/tonne (not a statutory levy) which will be part of a user-pay charge only for those grain growers who elect to utilise the facilities. This will effectively replicate the way in which SA graingrowers built and became equity holders in the former SACBH.
In a joint statement at the official opening of the Lucky Bay transshipping harbor extension Free Eyre Chairman John Crosby and Sea Transport Chairman Stuart Ballantyne said that subject to the completion of funding negotiations, construction on the land based grain receival, storage and handling facilities will start in the first quarter of 2017 and be completed in time to receive grain for the 2017 harvest.