BUNGE has made a significant move in its bid to win a bigger share of WA's grain market by applying to two Upper Great Southern shires to build grain storage facilities capable of holding up to 350,000 tonnes.
The multi-national company has lodged development applications with the West Arthur and Dumbleyung shires that outline its plans to boost its storage capacity to feed the Bunbury port facility it opened last year.
Bunge is hoping to have the facilities operating at more than half capacity in time for the 2015-16 harvest.
Its application was advertised for public comment on the Shire of West Arthur website on January 19.
Bunge's application stated plans to initially build a four-bunker 120,000-tonne storage facility, weighbridge and small transportable administration building on a site on the Coalfields Highway, 1.2 kilometres west of Albany Highway at Arthur River.
It also says space for an additional four bunker storage pads for future use will be allowed for.
This would take storage capacity to more than 200,000t on the site.
A similar facility, initially with a capacity of between 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes and expanding to 150,000 tonnes, is proposed for the other site some 95 kilometres further east, on the Dumbleyung-Lake Grace Road close to Kukerin.
Bunge has said previously it hopes to export up to a million tonnes of grain a year through Bunbury Port.
Its port facility currently has a storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes and Bunge has permits to export 500,000 tonnes in the first two years.
A traffic impact report, prepared for Bunge by Opus International Consultants (Australia) Pty Ltd for both the proposed Arthur River and Dumbleyung sites, states that Bunge's port storage capacity is sufficient to fill a 40,000-tonne ship with the port silos being replenished between ships.
The port "supply chain" will involve the proposed Arthur River storages operating at capacity to cover about 35 per cent of the exported grain, supplemented by existing CBH storage, private grain bins and on-farm bins, it stated.
When fully operational the two new storages will generate an extra 160 truck movements a day on the Coalfields Highway during the peak harvest period, with each ship requiring about 800 truckloads to fill it.
However, the Opus report points out that the "overall quantity" of truck movements involved in shifting grain from farm to port will not change, "with routes to Fremantle and Albany ports having a decrease in truck movements and an equivalent increase in truck movements using the route to the Bunbury Port".
Bunge expects the storages will service an area ranging from Pingelly in the north, to Lake Grace in the east and Tambellup in the south, according to a map in the report.
Bunge Australia general manager Chris Aucote confirmed the company's plans but said it was still in the early stages of the process.
"Each facility is proposed to initially have about 100,000 tonnes of capacity, with potential to expand in the future," Mr Aucote said.
"Growers have been asking us to look at storage and delivery options through to the Bunbury port.
"We have looked at a number of avenues, including the on-farm storage products and up-country delivery arrangements we put in place for last harvest.
"We think these new bunker storage facilities will further complement the current supply chain, and provide growers alternate delivery options."
Mr Aucote said Bunge had been in discussions with the shires and Main Roads for a number of months.
"We are only at an early stage in the development process, but we look forward to updating growers and the local communities as we move forward," he said.
"We are hoping to have the facilities ready for the 2015/16 harvest."
Shire of West Arthur chief executive Nicole Wasmann said the development would be great for the region but was concerned about the increased pressure of truck movements on Coalfields Road.
"Hopefully (the development) creates local employment and also provide benefits to our (local) farmers," Ms Wasmann said.
"Although we will need overtaking lanes for road safety."
Shire of Wagin president Phil Blight also has shown concern for his shire and the extra movements of trucks between Kukerin and Arthur River leading through the township of Wagin.
"An introduction of grain storages site is positive for our community, especially for our farmers," he said.
"But we are wary of road damages and the change of traffic flow - we will need more funding to maintain our roads."