CONTAINERISED grain and cotton grown in Central Queensland (CQ) is expected to be flowing to the Port of Brisbane on regular, and direct, rail services when the CQ Inland Port (CQIP) opens in September.
SEAWAY is its anchor tenant, and has organised two train services per week from the intermodal facility at Yamala near Emerald to run to the Port of Brisbane.
The company will be running a rail terminal and packing plant, and SEAWAY regional manager Jamie Kennedy said each rail service will have the capability to carry 78 20-foot containers.
Announcement of the rail-service provider is expected next month.
“We’re looking at a September 1 start, and rail services beginning in the middle of September or just after,” Mr Kennedy said.
Coinciding with Emerald’s Ag-Grow event last week, SEAWAY hosted visitors on Thursday at CQIP, with commodity traders, growers and local dignitaries in attendance.
“It was a project update, letting people know what we’re about and where we’re up to.
“The status is the packing plant is under construction, and we hope to have it finished by mid to late August.”
CQ chickpeas are renowned in export markets for their bright colour, good quality and each year lead Australia’s new-crop shipments to South Asia and the Middle East.
Chickpeas are therefore expected to spearhead SEAWAY’s initial operations at CQIP.
They are generally harvested from mid-September, and are taken by road to sites in southern Queensland for packing.
Mr Kennedy said SEAWAY’s CQIP site will allow product including chickpeas to be packed much closer to origination, and head straight to Brisbane for a more efficient journey to port.
“We’ll be able to do wheat, sorghum, chickpeas, cotton lint, cottonseed and general freight.”
Yamala, 25km east of Emerald, is already home to an LDC cotton gin, and a Queensland Cotton facility gins cotton on the south side of the Emerald township.
Both sites are expected to consider shipping product through CQIP.
“We want to get this thing off the ground around grain volumes; we’ll kick off with that.”
“If it’s one box or 100 boxes, we don’t mind.”
“It can be cotton, it can be grain; if it fits on a train, we’ll look at doing it.”
Scope for refrigeration
The Emerald region is already a producer of citrus, and Mr Kennedy said SEAWAY’s CQIP terminal may expand into the handling of fruit to be hauled on rail to Brisbane.
“We will look at refrigerated goods too, which could mean cool rooms.”
SEAWAY already owns and operates an intermodal terminal at Merbein near Mildura in the Sunraysia region which exports product via the Port of Melbourne.
The Merbein facility packs refrigerated and non-refrigerated product and carries out export protocols including fumigation and inspections, with citrus as well as grain, cotton and wine among its major commodities.
“We’re in the middle of the citrus season; they’re picking now and we’ll be doing over 2000 boxes.”
SEAWAY is also establishing a facility at InterLinkSQ in Toowoomba, and already handles refrigerated product including beef as well as non-refrigerated commodities for export via the Port of Brisbane.