Now that talks with DP World have ended, the Port of Newcastle in Australia is inviting other operators to pitch for a 2M TEU terminal.
After Australian media reported that DP World and the Port of Newcastle had ended their negotiations to develop a new container terminal at Newcastle, the port has issued a call for other terminal operators interested in developing a box terminal at one of Australia’s largest coal ports.
Newcastle and Port Kembla have long been debated as potential sites for container terminals once Port Botany reaches capacity, but the 2014 sale of a 99-year lease on Newcastle to Hastings Fund Management and China Merchants placed a restriction on Newcastle growing beyond a 30,000 TEU per year baseline without paying a A$100 per TEU compensation to the owners of Port Botany.
In December 2017 the new chairman of the Port of Newcastle Board, Professor (Emeritus) Roy Green, started a push to develop a container terminal at Newcastle and revisit the compensation arrangement in the process. Newcastle was negotiating with DP World, but Australian media reported earlier this month that those talks broke off with no agreement reached.
Craig Carmody, CEO of the Port of Newcastle, has now announced that over the past three weeks, the port had received a number of unsolicited bids to develop and operate a container terminal in Newcastle.
"I can confirm that the Port of Newcastle has been approached by a number of globally significant container port operators who are eager to take advantage of our proximity to exporters and importers, the availability of large tracts of low cost land around the port and our access to dedicated freight transport infrastructure."
Carmody said, "Whilst we cannot go into details yet, these bids clearly demonstrate that there is no doubt in the minds of private investors that a container terminal in the Port of Newcastle is economically viable. It’s really a matter of when, not if, we will see preparatory work commencing on the container port in Newcastle.
"It should be noted that, these bids are contingent on the removal of the current artificial constraint imposed on NSW port competition and other regulatory issues.
"Given the speed with which we have received these bids, I invite interested parties to contact Port of Newcastle,” Carmody said. The port is asking for bids based on developing a 2M TEU terminal within five years of the compensation payment “being removed”.
While the local market is limited, Newcastle believes it is well placed to be handle containers for the Sydney and wider NSW markets. "In the next 20 years, the number of containers moving through ports in NSW is likely to double. Evidence from Deloitte Access Economics and other studies suggests that the development of a highly automated, state-of-the-art container port in Newcastle has the capacity to help ease congestion in Sydney while boosting the competitiveness of the NSW and national economies.
"While there is much planning and consultation in front of us, it is exciting for both the Port and the region that there is such interest and enthusiasm for investing in the future diversification and growth of the Newcastle and Hunter economy," concluded Carmody.