Australia's bumper harvest leads to grain ships being heavily booked for the next six months


A record grain harvest is causing bottlenecks on the way to port terminals, where export ships are heavily booked for the next six months.

A factor preventing more coming through is the limited investment in inland rail, which results in slower and fewer trains and difficulties with grain storage.

The bumper harvest means upgraded grain terminals at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, are expected to load more than 2 million tonnes of grain in the next year.

"It's a big harvest and we're doing our best to keep up with it," said Dene Ladmore, the terminal manager from new consortium Quattro Ports.

The Port Kembla skyline is dominated by massive silos and conveyor belts, which move and store hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wheat, canola and some barley.

Quattro is a consortium of the Japanese-owned Emerald, China's COFCO, the US-based Cargill Australia and logistics company Qube.

The $75 million combined investment at Port Kembla included 17 silos and dredging to cater for larger export ships.

"We have 100,000 tonnes of storage capacity. That's approximately two ships of cargo so you can be loading one and accumulating for the next vessel coming in," Mr Ladmore said.

"We have eight very large silos, 10,000 tonnes and nine small silos.

"We can store different grades and commodities in a different silo and you can also fumigate [and] lock it down for a few days for the gas.


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