FAR West residents are hopeful a development application submitted by Flinders Ports for restoration work at the Thevenard jetty is a sign of things to come for the lifeblood of the Ceduna community.
Towards the end of last year, Flinders Port submitted a development application to the State Commission Assessment Panel for a $15-million revamp of the jetty, which involves replacing a 235 metre-long section. The application follows the port being closed for a period in 2017 due to storm damage.
Flinders Ports communications and marketing coordinator Samantha Arthur said the proposed restoration works had been designed to maintain the longevity of the jetty well into the future.
District Council of Ceduna mayor Perry Will said it was pleasing to see the application was before the panel.
“When we heard about it, it was a relief because we’ve been waiting for a while to see what Flinders Ports were going to do,” he said.
“In July 2017, when the port broke down, there were 200 families in the area without work.
“It really brought home the reality of just how important the port is to us.”
Mr Will said work was needed as some of the older parts of the jetty were built back in 1915.
“If the upgrade goes ahead, it should be good for another 100 years,” he said.
Mr Will said it gave the Far West region some certainty, knowing Flinders Port was prepared to spend the money on the upgrade.
“Hopefully the proposed upgrade is a sign that work could be done to bring in bigger ships,” he said.
“With some of the bigger ships at the moment, they can’t be filled right up so they go to Port Lincoln or Wallaroo to top up and because of that farmers have to pay a two-port loading fee of between $5 a tonne to $15/t.
“For one farmer, that could add up to a $80,000 a year cost.”
Wheat and sheep farmer Anthony Nicholls, Ceduna, said being so far away from the domestic grain market, farmers in the area relied on the port.
“Thevenard is one of the busiest ports in SA, but it’s probably the most run-down port as well, so $15m is going to go a long way to improving the infrastructure of the jetty,” he said.
“It would be the nail in the coffin for wheat growing on the Far West coast if it did close.
“It’s a big plus that Flinders Ports is prepared to spend money on the wharf, hopefully it gives other port users the confidence to upgrade as well. For myself, and my kid’s future, it’s a real confidence boost.”
Viterra western region operations manager Nick Pratt said the company was also investing in the Far West facility.
“The Thevenard port terminal has had significant investments made to the site across the last three years including a complete electrical upgrade and two trestle upgrades,” he said.
“Further investments at the site include a new 40 metre weighbridge, new bunker storage and new equipment including a front-end loader and drive-over hopper and stacker set.”