Article by: Hari Yellina
Grain might be streaming into a new $250 million complex at Port Spencer, 20 kilometres north-east of Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, by harvest time next year. Peninsula Ports was granted the green light this week after raising money, with construction set to begin next month. Peninsula Ports has 18 months to build dock structures, silos and bunkers, and an enhanced road transport route after the germ for a new port was planted in 2012. The Ports’ Chairman John Crosby stated that the new port would increase market competition for growers.
“Those who get started early, obviously, have a significant advantage in the entire process — first and foremost, in terms of getting funded and getting on deck sooner.” Mr Crosby added that because of the port’s location, there will be fewer trucks on Port Lincoln roadways. “Because we’re 70 kilometres north of Port Lincoln, the total amount of road miles will be less than it is now,” he explained. “A so-called east-west road is desperately needed. We’re definitely working with the administration to determine if that’s possible.” Peninsula Ports, according to Tumby Bay farmer Dion LeBrun, did not properly consult with the farming community. The announcement surprised the grain grower, who claimed the corporation had already made several bogus promises.
“On the Eyre Peninsula, there are already three successful, operational grain export ports that handle roughly 2.5 million tonnes of grain,” he said. “They have their AGMs and shareholders’ meetings, but they haven’t really connected with the broader farming community to find out what they genuinely need.” Mr LeBrun expressed concern that the vehicles that will be redirected to Tumby Bay would not have enough access. “On the Eyre Peninsula, there is no safe east-west road-train freight route,” he stated. Concerns have been raised regarding the creatures that dwell near the port, both in the sea and on land. The public environmental study, according to Mr Crosby, was approved around 18 months ago.
“We believe and were able to persuade the specialists that we will have no effect on them,” he said. In contrast to Cape Hardy, Lipson Cove resident Rochelle Berryman claims the port was allowed without a “complete” Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Ms Berryman explained, “Port Spencer is extremely close to Lipson Island Conservation Park.” Ms Berryman also expressed concern that the heritage-listed Three Sisters shipwreck would be harmed as a result of its proximity. “In six days, some 650 local residents signed a petition against Port Spencer because of its location, but supporting Cape Hardy,” she said. “We are adamantly opposed to the establishment of a port [Port Spencer] at Lipson Cove. A better spot is Cape Hardy.”
Meanwhile, Chris Heinjus of Pinion Advisory, a grain market expert, said the market will eventually determine if the project was successful or not. When T-Ports opened in Lucky Bay in 2020, competition increased dramatically, and with it, supply chain complications increased as well. He believes that getting the port up and functioning by next year will be difficult. “There are significant challenges concerning the supply of labour and materials no matter where we look right now,” he said. “As a result of the [conflict in] Ukraine, global supply lines are somewhat fractured.”