Flinders Ports will commence an $80 million channel widening project at Port Adelaide after obtaining a dredging licence from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
The project will widen the Port’s Outer Harbor shipping channel and swing basin to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships and the larger, more efficient ‘Post Panamax’ container ships, which are increasingly dominating global containerised cargo transport.
Post Panamax vessels are up to 49m wide and 366m long – compared to Panamax vessels at 32m wide and 294m long.
Chief Executive Officer of Flinders Ports, Stewart Lammin, said the channel widening program was necessary to ensure the continued global relevance of the Port.
Port Adelaide is the only Australian capital city port unable to accommodate the larger ships, with the dredging program aiming to protect South Australian tourism and trade and avoid shipping company diversions to alternative Australian ports or land routes for important export trade.
The expanded channel will also open Adelaide up to the world’s largest cruise liners and underpin a stronger tourism industry.
Flinders Ports has contracted world-leading dredge contractor Boskalis to undertake the channel widening project. Dredging is due to commence in early June and should take three months to complete.
Boskalis has more than 100 years’ experience in hydraulic engineering, coastal protection and land reclamation and operates in 90 countries across six continents, with a versatile fleet of more than 900 vessels and floating equipment.
Mr Lammin said the company was committed to minimising the environmental impact of the program and maximising the ongoing health of South Australia’s marine environment in line with the requirements of the EPA licence.
“We have been working with representatives of the EPA, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), to identify any risks and establish strategies and protocols for addressing them,” Mr Lammin said.
“Central to that is the use of state-of-the-art equipment to minimise turbidity, loss of seagrass and any impact on fauna, adherence to an agreed seasonal window and the imposition of comprehensive risk management protocols.”
The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) has also approved a Native Vegetation Clearance permit to allow Flinders Ports to clear a small amount of sparse seagrass as part of the expansion of the Outer Harbor Channel.
Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal, located at Outer Harbor, currently supports more than 6,000 jobs. South Australian exports through the port exceed $8 billion annually and imports, approximately $6.5 billion.