THE future of the Bunbury Port is looking bright with negotiations underway to ship fresh South West produce to feed Barrow Island as well as a $30 million grain investment.
Giant global grain trader Bunge Ltd has plans to build a 50,000 tonne grain storage facility at the Port with transport minister Troy Buswell signing off on the deal in January.
Mr Buswell was in Bunbury last week with a positive outlook on the investment’s future.
He also told the Bunbury Mail fresh South West produce could be the next product to pass through the Port to the site of major gas plant, the Gorgon Project.
“I have been told fresh produce could be transported on barges on ships up to Barrow Island to feed the people involved in the resources boom in WA,” Mr Buswell said.
“It’s an interesting use of the Port and a good use.”
Mr Buswell signed permits which would allow 500,000 tonnes of grain to pass through the port in the first two years, starting in 2014.
Once that two-year cap is lifted, the Port is likely to double the potential export volume to one million tonnes, with grain going to key markets in South East Asia.
The deal would see a portion of the grain volume transported off farms to the Port via local roads.
Mr Buswell said conditions placed on the operations meant grain must come in on the Bunbury Port Access Road and if the Coalfields Highway was used, there must be minimal impact on people driving to and from work.
It would also be the biggest single investment in a major operation outside of CBH’s 200 storage sites in WA.
Mr Buswell said there was plenty of capacity for the new developments at the Port which was “one of the key economic enablers in the South West.”
He said it was critical that the Preston River Diversion study was completed to provide some certainty for the Port’s long-term investments.