THE $130-million Lucky Bay port facility on the Eyre Peninsula is on-track to take receivals this harvest, with T-Ports saying its two bunker sites were completed.
The six bunkers at Lock can store 140,000 tonnes, while the capacity at Lucky Bay is 360,000t in 10 bunkers, plus 24,000t of silo storage, which will be installed next month.
T-Ports chief executive officer Kieran Carvill said the company had already conducted a successful bunker trial at Lock in April, when they received 4500t of off-farm grain for ADM.
"That was a very proud moment, to see the site up and running," he said.
Mr Carvill said local construction company Ahrens would be on-site next month to erect the steel silos, plus a road intake building, in some of the final stages of construction.
"All that is left to do is connect to mains power and get IT systems running at those bunker sites and we will be ready for receivals from October," he said.
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Mr Carvill said they were in discussions with the major grain traders about publishing pricing for Lock and Lucky Bay.
"As we near the end of the season, we hope they will start offering a T-Ports option," he said.
Mr Carvill has just returned from China, where the company's "state-of-the-art" transhipment vessel, the Lucky Eyre, was nearing completion.
"Installation of the grain handling systems on the vessel is expected to be finalised by next month," he said.
Mr Carvill said the 87-metre transhipment vessel would set sail from Shanghai, China, in September and would arrive in SA the following month.
Once here, it will be used to load Panamax-sized vessels off the Lucky Bay coast.
It can hold up to 3500 tonnes and can load up to 13,800t a day.
Mr Carvill calls the Lucky Eyre a "world-first" in that a "self-propelled, self-discharging grain vessel that operates in the ocean" had never been produced.
"There has been a huge amount of design work undertaken into this specialised fully-automated vessel and the port itself," he said.
"But the risk will be minimal, as it's not new technology, just configured in a different way.
"Less labour will also be required when it comes into dock, as the mooring is also fully-automated."
We expect the port to be fully-functional by November and ready to ship early in the new year.- KIERAN CARVILL
Mr Carvill said the bunkers sites and harbour basin itself were about 95 per cent complete, with only some filling works and ramps to be finished off.
The installation of the buildings, silos and material handling systems is underway.
"We expect the port to be fully-functional by November and ready to ship late this year," he said.
The Lucky Bay site is expected to manage intake of 1000t of grain an hour, while the out-turn to the Lucky Eyre will be up to 1500t/hr.
Mr Carvill said the sites would receive all the major grain grades, with more specialised receivals to be considered, depending on the season.
"We have also been looking quite closely at containerisation, at hay storage, importing of fertiliser, all which will be considered in stage 2 of the project," he said.
Mr Carvill said the main focus for this season would be ensuring an efficient alternative to the incumbent grain handler.
"In the beginning, we were met with cynicism because local growers had been promised a lot in the past," he said.
"And until we are fully operational, there will always be an element of doubt that will remain.
"But I think our announcement that we are expanding our operations to Wallaroo, and have the funding in hand, should instill more confidence that we are here for the long game."
Mr Carvill said there would be T-Ports representation at the Yorke Peninsula Field Days in September, where they would be able to answer any grower queries and provide more information about the Wallaroo port development.
"We're doing everything we can to start construction at Wallaroo by next year," he said.
"We have a daunting task in front of us, but we keep meeting the requirements and goals we have set, so we are happy with the progress."
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