Mobile ship loaders bulk up southeast’s grain exports

Liz Wells, March 6, 2018

THE use of mobile ship-loaders on public berths in southeastern Australia is providing new opportunities to grain exporters without links to bulk terminals.

Trucks discharging barley into mobile shiploader at Portland in March 2018(Image Riordan)

Victorian trader Riordan Grains last year loaded its own vessels for the first time at the Port of Geelong’s Corio Quay using a mobile ship-loader.

This week, Riordan completed its first two-port load, which picked up barley bound for China at Geelong and then Portland, Victoria’s westernmost grain port.

Riordan Grain general manager, Mark Lewis, said the exercise involved transporting the company’s mobile ship loader by road from Geelong to Portland.

“The two-port load, involving some logistics of equipment and staff, was successfully completed yesterday afternoon,” Mr Lewis said.

“The fully laden vessel of 55,000 tonnes of barley sailed soon after the high tide, for the voyage of around four weeks before discharging in China.”

Riordan Grain will likely operate the bulk loader at Geelong and Portland again this season.

“We have further vessel commitments for bulk grain loading between now and May,” Mr Lewis said.

Eastern states bulk handler, GrainCorp, operates export terminals at Portland and Geelong. Emerald has Melbourne’s only bulk terminal.

Mr Lewis said the mobile ship-loader was a cost-effective option for a company like Riordan Grain, which operated a fleet of grain trucks servicing accumulation and country storage capacity across Victoria and southern NSW.

Likewise, Cargill uses a mobile ship-loader from a public berth in Port Adelaide to supplement services available through bulk handlers established at Australian grain ports.

Cargill’s director of Australian corporate affairs, Peter McBride, said Cargill had been loading grains via a mobile ship loader for four years at the Berth 29 facility at Port Adelaide.

“The operation has brought much-needed competition to the Port Adelaide port zone, and gives Cargill greater flexibility in serving its export customer demand,” Mr McBride said.

Cargill owns four GrainFlow upcountry receival sites in South Australia, which supply grain to the ship-loading operations.

“The mobile loader does not mean Cargill will exclusively export through its own facility.

“Cargill continues to use Viterra’s South Australian ports to meet export customer demand.

“In Victoria, we use GrainCorp port facilities for bulk exports, and we do have the ability to use Emerald’s Melbourne Port Terminal for containers.”


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