South Australia’s first farmer and private equity partnership port will be built at Lucky Bay in time for the 2018-19 grain harvest.
Ports consortium T-Ports announced on Wednesday funding for the $115 million port infrastructure and supply chain development project had been finalised last week, which involved securing $96 million in private investor equity and debt.
As a result, on-ground work is due to start immediately and construction is due to start in the second quarter of 2018.
The shallow harbour port will use transshipment vessels to move grain to cape size deep‐water vessels further out in the gulf.
The development will also include 430,000-tonne capacity grain storage at the port and 1500,000 tonnes of storage at Lock.
T‐Ports will meet with Eyre Peninsula growers and stakeholders in April to receive feedback and explain the finer details of the project and activities they can expect at Lucky Bay in the lead‐up to the first deliveries later in 2018.
After an expression of interest phase last year, 120 Eyre Peninsula grain growers indicated their support for the project with 377,000 tonnes estimated to go through the facility.
These growers will acquire equity in the port for ongoing throughput over the next seven years.
Eyre Peninsula grain growers are expected to save $5 to $20 per tonne on transporting grain from farm to port, depending on their proximity to Lucky Bay.
Lock grain grower and T-Ports board member Andrew Polkinghorne said the Lucky Bay project was the breakthrough many Eyre Peninsula growers were waiting for in supply chain competition.
“While there have been a number of projects flagged for EP, Lucky Bay is a reality, it is funded and work is starting,” Mr Polkinghorne said.
“The benefits of this project will flow through to farming families and their local communities, as they secure equity in T-Ports and, as a result, a share of the profits of storing and shipping their grain.”
He said the announcement was a great outcome not only for growers and the investors who supported it but for the whole state.
The development approvals for the port and bunker sites were granted in 2016 and the required port operating agreement can only be granted after financial closure.
Dredging of the outer channel has also been approved.
T-Ports chairman Rob Chapman said the company’s ports infrastructure strategy centred on developing a more financially feasible ports model, including shallow water ports with a lower build cost and smaller environmental footprint requiring modest throughput, providing sound financial returns to investors.