Port of Tauranga has today received final approval from the Minister of Conservation for its plans to widen and deepen shipping channels, to accommodate larger ships.
Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, welcomed the news, saying the benefits to the New Zealand economy from the ability to accommodate larger vessels would be widespread and significant.
The dredging project will be carried out in several stages, with the first commencing towards the end of 2013 and taking six months to a year to complete.
“Larger ships, both containerised and bulk, have relatively higher fuel efficiency (and are therefore more carbon efficient) with lower operating costs per unit,” says Mr Cairns. “This will enhance the competitiveness of New Zealand exporters and provide lower freight costs for importers.”
The New Zealand Shippers’ Council estimates the real value to New Zealand of bigger ships operating on the South East Asia trade routes could be up to $338 million per year, and increasing up to $391 million per year by 2020.
Facts and figures
• The dredging project will widen and deepen the shipping channel from 12.9 metres to 16.0 metres depth at low water.
• Ships of up to 347 metres in length and 14.5 metres draught will be able to be accommodated in Tauranga Harbour.
• The first stage of dredging, costing $40 to $50 million, will give access to ships with a capacity of 5,000 to 6,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent containers). The biggest ships currently using the port can carry around 4,500 TEUs.
• The second stage of dredging will accommodate 8,200 TEU ships, future-proofing the port for the next 15 to 20 years.
• The expansion will also allow larger bulk cargo and cruise ships to visit Tauranga. This season, the port hosted visits from the Celebrity Solstice – a 317 metre cruise vessel, the largest ever to visit Tauranga – in the growing trend to larger ships. The first stage of dredging will allow Tauranga to host the Queen Mary cruise vessel, which had to be turned away this cruise season.
• The dredged material will be predominantly clean sand, and the majority will be placed in existing off-shore deposition sites which have been in use since 1968. There are also a number of near-shore sites designed to replenish beaches at Mount Beach, Ocean Beach, and Pilot Bay.
• The Port’s Sulphur Point container terminal is the largest in New Zealand, handling more than 850,000 containers (TEUs) a year.
• The dredging work is part of a $170 million capital expenditure programme to expand capacity and improve productivity at the port.
• Other work under way includes a 170 metre extension of the Sulphur Point wharves, which is nearing completion and will expand berth capacity by 28%.
• The Company is also currently commissioning a sixth ship-to-shore gantry crane, with a seventh on order for delivery in early 2014.
“These preparations for more frequent ship visits and larger volumes of cargo will ensure that we continue to meet the capacity demands of our customers and maintain our high productivity levels into the future,” says Mr Cairns.
“The consent application to dredge the harbour to accommodate larger ships has been a challenging process for both Iwi and the Port over the last four years and the Port has learnt a lot throughout the process, of the Mauri that Tauranga Moana place on Te Awanui (Tauranga Harbour) including Mauao,” says Mr Cairns.
The dredging project resource consent conditions have been modified throughout the process, to include:
• The establishment of a trust to recognise the relationship of Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga and their Hapu with Te Awanui. The Trust will comprise five iwi and two Port of Tauranga representatives and will set priorities and allocate funds for future harbour improvement projects.
• A minimum separation distance of the dredging works from Te Kuia Rock
• The development of a Kaimoana Restoration Programme to develop research and monitoring criteria to remedy or mitigate the effects on kaimoana, in particular the pipi beds on Te Paritaha (Centre Bank) that will be damaged by the dredging works.
• The establishment of further tertiary and post graduate research studies aimed at promoting better environmental health of Te Awanui (Tauranga Harbour).
“We will continue to place a high degree of importance on productive working relationships with tangata whenua and the new trust will provide a forum for building on these relationships and improving the health and well-being of the beautiful harbour we share,” says Mr Cairns.
Press Release, March 5, 2013