Port’s profit jumps to $12.4m: report

FREMANTLE Ports has announced a $12.4 million after-tax profit following an increase in overall trade through the port of 3.7 per cent.

Figures released in the Fremantle Ports 2003 Corporate Progress report indicate container trade at Fremantle Port grew to 12.7 per cent – well ahead of predictions this financial year, despite the effect of the drought and the decline in grain exports in 2002-03.

The strong growth has meant a better than expected after-tax profit of $12.4 million, significantly higher than the targeted $6.6 million after-tax profit.

The report says container trade at the port has grown 195 per cent in 10 years.

Fremantle Ports CEO Kerry Sanderson said the outlook for the port was positive, with continued growth in trade expected this year.

Fremantle is just one of several WA ports undergoing upgrades due to increased trade driven, among other things, by the resources boom.

Geraldton Port completed a major upgrade in recent weeks that included a deepening of the basin and improved ship loading and infrastructure facilities.

The port upgrade at Geraldton means that visiting ships can now take on a full cargo – not previously possible due to the shallow basin – removing the need for ships to visit other WA ports such as Fremantle in order to fill to capacity.

Esperance Port completed a $54 million upgrade last year, making it the deepest harbour in southern Australia at 19 metres.

Major infrastructure projects at the Fremantle Ports include the recently completed $11 million fertiliser storage facility.

Also progressing are plans for increased rail transport, including the North Quay Rail Project and the upgrade of the Kwinana Bulk Terminal in the Outer Harbour.

An $11 million storage facility and associated works were completed in April at Fremantle Port’s Bulk Jetty in a joint project with United Farmers.

The new facility has more than twice the capacity of fertiliser storage previously used by United Farmers in the Kwinana area.

It incorporates a massive shed, covering an area of one hectare, which has a storage capacity of 80,000 cubic metres.

Improved efficiency in unloading, blending of products and truck turnaround is facilitated through links with Fremantle Port’s high throughput conveyor system and continuous bulk unloader at the jetty.

Fremantle Port’s principal export commodities by volume are alumina, grain and refined petroleum, which together account for 73 per cent of volume by total exports.

The principal import commodity by volume is crude petroleum, with 5.5 million tonnes imported in 2002-03, a decrease of 4.1 per cent on the previous year.

These major bulk cargo commodities, along with grains, mineral sands, fertilisers, sulphur and other bulk commodities, are handled through the outer harbour.

About 30 per cent of Australia’s wheat is exported through the Co-operative Bulk Handling facility at Kwinana.

The total value of trade through Fremantle Port is now more than $15 billion annually, with $1.7 million in trade passing through the port every hour.

The port’s major trading regions are East Asia, South-East Asia and southern Asia, which made up 43 per cent of total trade in 2002-03.

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