The Port of Townsville has announced the winner of the largest contract of the $232 million Channel Upgrade project.

Hall Contracting was awarded the contract. 

The works include capital dredging to widen 14.9km of sea channels over two years and reclamation of 62 hectares of land through beneficial reuse of dredged material. 

Employing a local workforce of more than 70 full-time employees, the contract follows the extensive work over the past 18-months to build a 2.2km rock perimeter wall to receive the material.  

Port of Townsville Chief Executive Officer, Ranee Crosby, said Queensland-based Hall Contracting has partnered with Townsville-based Pacific Marine Group to offer extensive experience in dredging and reclamation.  

The pair has committed to almost 100 per cent of this project being resourced from Queensland based businesses.

“Hall Contracting has presented the best offer to complete the works,” Ms Crosby said.

“Their strong commitment to local industry and First Nations people’s participation as well as employment and learning opportunities for tertiary students, apprentices and trainees presents significant opportunities for our region. 

“Over the course of the project they will provide meaningful training across a range of vocations including vessel crew, marine engineers, diesel fitters, hydraulic fitters, boilermakers, earthmoving operators and dredge operators. 

Hall Contracting CEO, Cameron Hall, said, “We regard this project as one of the most iconic dredging projects in Australia’s history and an important step in the development of both the Port of Townsville and the city itself.  

“Our recently acquired backhoe dredge, Woomera, is the largest Australian-owned dredge of its kind and will arrive in Townsville to commence works next year.”

Pacific Marine Group CEO, Kevin Chard, said, “We are a born and bred North Queensland company who have operated in Townsville for more than 25 years.  

“PMG is committed to local employment and development of our youth through partnerships with locals such as NRL Cowboys House and Tec-NQ.” 

The Channel Upgrade project will widen the current shipping channel from 92m to 180m at the inshore (Port) end, tapering to 120m wide in the Sea Channel, increasing the size of cargo, cruise and defence vessels able to access the Port of Townsville. 

“Channel widening is critical for Townsville Port to grow as Northern Australia’s trade hub, and to continue servicing communities in North Queensland,” Ms Crosby said.

“Our aim is to deliver competitive solutions for customers and more economic supply chains for retailers operating across the region by establishing a port of call option preferred by shipping lines.  

“Townsville Port makes sense for the climate and economy with reduced carbon emissions for freight, lower costs of general goods and improved resilience for Northern Queensland in disasters.’’

The Port has committed $17 million for environmental monitoring and management programs as part of the project, including those covering dolphins, turtles, seagrass, coral and shorebirds. 

An Independent Technical Advisory Committee is also providing expert oversight of the monitoring programs during the capital dredging works.  

Hall Contracting is expected to begin capital dredging in May 2021. 

The Channel Upgrade is a joint project of the Queensland and Australian governments, and Port of Townsville Limited.  

The Channel Upgrade is a key initiative under the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.

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