North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) has applied for permits to enable the continuation of maintenance dredging at the Port of Weipa.
The 10-year permit application, to be assessed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), will allow NQBP to continue its maintenance dredging program when needed until 2031.
Commenting the latest news, NQBP CEO, Nicolas Fertin, said that maintenance dredging was undertaken by port authorities around the world and was critical for maintaining port infrastructure.
“In the same way we maintain roads and rail lines for freight transport, we need to look after our port infrastructure to keep trade flowing,” Mr Fertin said.
“Regular maintenance dredging ensures efficient, navigable shipping depths for our port users.
“These activities involve detailed regulatory approval processes under international conventions, and national and state legislation.”
Mr Fertin added that NQBP’s assessment reports found the risks to sensitive marine environments as a result of the maintenance dredging were predominantly low when managed appropriately.
“NQBP’s maintenance dredging management plan has been developed in consultation with a Technical Advisory and Consultative Committee consisting of representatives from Commonwealth, State and local government, port users, environmental/conservation, Traditional Owners and community interest groups,” he said.
It is proposed that the overall maximum dredging volume for the 10-year permit would be approximately 10.8 million m3.
One change to the permit, if approved, would be the relocation of the existing Dredge Material Placement Area (DMPA).
Currently located in Albatross Bay, it is proposed to shift the DMPA two kilometres west into deeper water to facilitate access for dredge vessels and to provide additional storage capacity for the next 10 years.