Northport is investing $8m in infrastructure needed to support the growth of container traffic through the port. It is buying container-handling equipment and a simulator module to train staff in its operation, expanding its container storage area and upgrading its lighting to enhance safety during 24-hour operations.
The company is forecasting a 15 percent year-on-year increase in the volume of container traffic for this financial year to the end of June.
It has placed orders for two new reach-stacker container handlers and a new dock-truck and MAFI trailer. These will enhance substantially the port’s container-handling ability.
It will start paving an extra four hectares of its south-west development in October and install at a later stage six 35m towers with LED lights – a first for the port.
“This investment demonstrates our commitment to growing container traffic through Northport to service the trade needs of both our region and north Auckland,” said chief executive Jon Moore. “It’s a solid vote of confidence in the potential for significant and continued economic growth around our region and across the Upper North Island.”
“We’ve had to rise to the unexpected challenges presented by recent unplanned and large-scale container traffic, with the bare minimum of equipment. I’m hugely proud of the way our small team has adapted and used what we have to great effect. But we expect container traffic through Northport to keep growing so the time is right to expand our container-handling, receipt and dispatch capability.”
Mr Moore said this investment was not linked to possible expansion of the port.
“This is equipment we need to manage the here and now. We invest in infrastructure that we know we have a need for. It’s the approach we took with our two mobile harbour cranes and it’s the same story with this latest tranche of investment.”
The company is continuing with the work and studies it needs to complete before lodging the Resource Consent application for its growth plans. It has already posted a range of predominantly draft expert reports on its ‘Vision for Growth’ website (visionforgrowth.co.nz), with several more to come.
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Northport, situated at Marsden Point at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour, is New Zealand’s northernmost deep-water port. It is a flexible facility catering for large, multi-purpose vessels and full cargo handling facilities are available from its 570-metre linear berth.
Logs, woodchip and processed timber for export comprise the bulk of cargo handled by the port. Recent investment in container handling equipment has seen an uptake in coastal and international container trade. Other export items include kiwifruit, dairy products and manufactured goods. Imports are an important part of Northport’s business and include fertiliser, gypsum, coal and palm kernel.