A BULK grain site is about to open at Wagner Corporation’s Wellcamp Business Park to enable accumulation of grain and pulses for export, and provide an up-country hub for consumers to collect grain sourced from interstate.
Lessee of the site is Rain Agribusiness, and its first task will be to receive and out-turn South Australian barley brought by road from a vessel which will unload later this month at Wagner’s wharf at Pinkenba in Brisbane.
As the distribution of boat barley to consumers on the Darling Downs and surrounds continues amid dry conditions, RainAg regional manager Scott Merson said chickpea accumulation, grading and export will be a concurrent focus in the site’s initial year.
Long loads welcome
Road access has been engineered to handle triple configurations to receive farm grain or outturn interstate barley accumulated at the site to feedlots and other consumers.
“It allows us to receive triples, and the whole site’s been built to accommodate them,” Mr Merson said.
RainAg got the keys to the Wellcamp site last Friday, and three of the six bunkers holding up to around 100,000 tonnes in total are ready to receive grain.
The bunkers account for most of the space on the site, and sit either side of the central service complex.
It includes an office building, a fuel station, washdown bay, driver amenities comprising kitchen, showers and toilets, and a sample stand and weighbridge for trucks grossing up to 140t.
Acting as a service provider, RainAg has already received one cargo of South Australian barley which was distributed to several Pinkenba sites leased by RainAg ahead of loads being delivered to consumers.
Mr Merson said RainAg intends to retain some storage sites at Pinkenba, which can currently hold a total of around 90,000t of bunkered grain, building up to 120,000t.
That figure is expected to reduce once Wellcamp is running at full capacity, and Pinkenba bunkers can out-turn to consumers not on the Downs.
“Grain from Brisbane will keep pricing north into places like the South Burnett, where the market might be $20/t over the Downs.”
As dry conditions impact the new-crop production outlook, RainAg’s Wellcamp site looks set to be a staging point for interstate boat grain well into next year.
Since June, several companies have shipped barley to Brisbane from SA and Western Australia to supply feedmills in the Brisbane region, as well as the South Burnett, and Inner and Southern Downs.
Mr Merson said boat barley was competing against grain trucked up from southern states which is primarily servicing feedlots on the Western Downs.
“We need to make that spread between Brisbane and the Downs attractive.”
Follow-on from chickpeas
RainAg started working with Wagner early last year, when expensive, limited and unreliable container sailings transformed Pakistan into a bulk market for Australian chickpeas.
It saw RainAg add shipping to its foundation services of brokerage and cotton warehousing, and with a mobile shiploader installed at the Wagner wharf, it has loaded several bulk cargoes with chickpeas bound for Pakistan.
“We had the association with Wagner already from what we’ve been doing in Brisbane, and this idea to open up a site at Wellcamp was to support that,” Mr Merson said.
“It’s a staging point for vessels loading, and we will be building a container packing plant here too, hopefully by the end of the year.”
That will give traders buying at the site the option to accumulate for bulk export, or pack containers.
Queensland’s chickpea harvest is expected to start in coming weeks, and will be a low-to-the-ground affair thanks to the limited in-crop rain most crops have received.
“We’re expecting a bit of dirt to come in with the chickpeas this harvest, and we’ll be offering a grading service to deal with that.”
Promise of Inland Rail
While construction north of the Queensland-New South Wales border is yet to start, the Federal Government’s Inland Rail project holds significant promise for grain sites like RainAg’s at Wellcamp.
It will mean grain railed up from NSW, and even Victoria and South Australia, could unload at Wellcamp for distribution to consumers in dry years like the current one.
However, in the wake of the Inland Rail review released in April, the project has focused on capitalising on upgrades already made on the Parkes-Melbourne alignment.
Sources have said there is therefore little chance of Inland Rail arriving at Wellcamp before 2027, and Moree looks like being the northernmost railhead for southern grain bound for the Qld market for the foreeseeable future.
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