A new floating wharf in the Kimberley has been labelled a game changer for pastoralists, live export and packaged meat industries.
Spearheaded by the WA-based privately-owned Kimberley Marine Support Base (KMSB), construction of the ambitious $200 million Kimberley Marine Offloading Facility (KMOF) is underway and will be completed by 2025.
The development was first pitched to the WA Government in 2019, as a way to address one of the region's biggest challenges facing the maritime sector - extreme tidal ranges.
KMSB general manager Jean-Pierre Veder said the development would be a boon for pastoralists.
The facility has been designed to incorporate a 165 metre x 50m floating wharf platform linked to a 300m long causeway, with associated mooring dolphins, capable of accommodating vessels more than 300m long.
The facility will cater to around-the-clock operations and vastly improve cycle times for the loading of cattle and cargo.
Dr Veder said Broome's strategic location and the modernisation of the port capabilities within Broome would allow for more direct and efficient transportation of cattle.
He said this could offer a viable alternative export route for northern WA pastoralists who currently utilise Fremantle or Darwin ports for export, which requires travel by road of 2200 and 1850 kilometres respectively.
Furthermore, access to expansive areas of in-port support land could create additional opportunities.
"These opportunities, like warehousing for fodder and other essential supplies, are poised to drive down costs and improve the overall efficiency and resilience of supply chains," Dr Veder said.
"This is a game changer for pastoralists who are looking to optimise their operations.
"Shorter supply chains, reduced road haulage, and warehousing would significantly enhance their operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness."
Taking a look at the live export sector, Dr Veder said the floating wharf would boost productivity and safety in loading cattle onto vessels.
He said this would reduce stress and improve animal welfare standards, which were essential for maintaining Australia's strong reputation in live export.
"The floating wharf provides a fixed vertical relationship to the vessel at all times, thereby significantly reducing the chances of slips and trips that can occur as a result of steep and rapidly changing gangway loading angles arising from fast tidal movements," Dr Veder said.
"This is a critical improvement for animal welfare that will ensure a smooth and low stress loading process."
In the packaged meat industry, Dr Veder said the upgraded facility, coupled with future plans for cold storage facilities, could help optimise the supply chain routes and export methodology for nearby abattoirs.
He said this would result in the region's quality packaged meat products reaching international markets faster and with lower logistics costs.
Transporters are also set to benefit from the wharf's dimensions, designed to accommodate the turning circle of triple road trains.
Through strategic planning, the need to breakdown trailers and manually turn them to move them off the wharf has been eliminated.
Peterson Energy Logistics was appointed port operator and TAMS group as the design and construct contractor of the facility last year.
As well as agriculture, the development will provide improved supply chain options to numerous industries, offering lower movement costs, reduced carbon emission options and minimised risks through shorter distances to offshore oil and gas operations.
On average, importing goods via Broome instead of Fremantle is said to reduce emissions by 1.5 tonnes of CO2e per 20 foot equivalent unit.
"Ports are an important part of Australian supply chains and they have a significant ripple effect within the economy," Dr Veder said.
"Independent Economic Impact Assessment modelling indicates that the project will contribute $2.5 billion to the gross State product over 25 years."
Kimberley Marine Offloading Facility core benefits breakdown:
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