Article – Wyndham plan would open up northern port

1 August 2014
Jacinta Bolsenbroek
Farm Weekly
KIMBERLEY Agricultural Investment (KAI) plans to build a bustling import/export port in Northern Australia, overcoming the huge freight costs which are holding back the region’s trade growth.
Kimberley growers, developers and cattle producers have warned freight costs are holding back the North’s export development.
KAI group chief executive officer and director JianZhong Yin said improving infrastructure and making imports available at Wyndham port offered a solution.
He said KAI could upgrade the facility, as early as next year, as part of its plan to grow the Ord scheme.
“The problem is that we cannot import at the port,” Mr Yin said.
“We need to have better infrastructure, because the prices are not competitive.”
KAI general manager Jim Engelke said due to its proximity to South East Asia, northern Australia should enjoy a competitive advantage in freighting produce.
But this was not being realised.
“Upgrades to infrastructure, in conjunction with further development, will lead to increasing inward and outward bound freight, that will hopefully provide competitive rates,” Mr Engelke said.
Wyndham Port is about 100km from Kununurra, while Darwin Port is more than 800km away, Adelaide is 3000km and Broome is 1000km from Kununurra by road.
Mr Yin said Wyndham was the most expensive port to use in Australia – a problem which needed to be addressed.
“If everything goes ahead as planned with scale and our plans with the sugar industry in the Ord, KAI could invest in the port,” Mr Yin said.
“This would help us, but also help everyone in the Kimberley area.”
Mr Yin said KAI would invest in infrastructure so those in the Ord River Irrigation Area and beyond, could import and export though the port.
“Investing in the port can help locals reduce costs,” Mr Yin said.
“We could get fertilisers from China through Wyndham, instead of using ports such as Melbourne or Sydney.
“It is more expensive to use Wyndham than it is to use those other ports, even though it is closer.
“For us, investing into the port would help reduce the cost of farming in the Ord and Kimberley region, because there is so much demand in China.”
But Mr Yin said investment would not be guaranteed until KAI was certain of its future developing a sugar industry in the Ord.
“We could also start a new business to import and export our own produce and other local products through our own international trading company – but we would need to look into this,” Mr Yin said.
The port has had a big upgrade in a just-completed two-year-long project, overseen by the WA transport department and funded by $10 million provided by the Commonwealth under the East Kimberley Development Package.
The deep water port has the capacity to export agricultural produce, due to upgrades which included: a new jetty fender system, refurbished jetty steel piles’ protective coatings, a new jetty steel cathodic protection system, refurbished container hardstand area, new jetty amenities and ablutions facility and refurbished services access under the jetty.
The upgrades where designed to maintain or increase exports in livestock, nickel concentrate, fuel, ammonium nitrate and general cargo, and meet future needs of the Ord River Irrigation Area.
But Mr Yin said that future would need to include imports as well as more exports – so further work at the port should be considered.

Courtesy of Farm Weeky