Shining a light on port navigation a business priority
A MULTI-million dollar contract to restore vital navigation aids for the Port of T o w n s v i l l e h a s b e e n awarded to Townsville-based marine contractor Pacific Marine Group and could take about eight weeks to complete.
Several beacons and navigation aids in the Platypus and Sea channels leading into the port were damaged or lost during Cyclone Yasi on February 2-3, closing the port to deep draft bulk carriers at night.
While most port users have been able to adapt to the changed conditions, the Yabulu nickel refinery, which relies on millions of tonnes of imported nickel ore as a feedstock for the plant, has had its supply lines disrupted and faced costly ship berthing charges and production shutdowns if the lights were not switched back on quickly.
There were fears rectification works could take as long as nine months, costing the refinery $ 25 million.
Marine Infrastructure Mini s t e r Cr a i g Wal l a c e a n - nounced the contract this week, saying it was further proof of the Bligh Government’s commitment to post cyclone recovery.
‘‘ Townsville is one of the state’s key trading ports and will play a major role in Queensland’s financial recovery,’’ Mr Wallace said.
He said the contract would be used in the construction of high-precision off-shore navigation lights to lead ships to the port’s main sea channel.
‘‘ Maritime Safety Queensl a n d o f f i c e r s w o r k e d tirelessly under extreme conditions to restore temporary navigation aids to the Port of Townsville and help reopen the port to shipping just days a f t e r t h e c y c l o n e h a d passed,’’ he said.
‘‘ Until the lead lights are up deep draft bulk carriers will not be able to safely enter the port at night.
‘‘ Getting these lights right will be no easy task but we’re confident we’ve got the right team. It’s expected the project may take around eight weeks or so.’’