Karumba Live Export (KLE) facility is relying on deep, annual dredging of the Gulf of Carpentaria catchment to continue its shipments and potential to expand.
Due to annual wet seasons and the earth’s gravitation, sediment builds up in the Karumba catchment preventing vessels from entering.
Stressing the need for dredging of the catchment is KLE manager Dean Bradford, who said shipments from the port had slowed due to limited access from shallow waters.
“At the moment we can only get small vessels in which is slowing up our production,” he said.
“If we could dredge it would give us the ability to do more ships and even bigger ships, which would be more cost effective.
“We would also have the potential to expand, allowing one ship at the current facility and another ship at a proposed second site.
“It makes a lot of sense to have two ships at the same time, allowing us to cut down on costs.”
Last year lobbying from local graziers and Mount Isa MP Robbie Katter, saw the catchment restrictively dredged thanks to a one-off payment of $1.7 million in state government funding. This was only sufficient to allow small vessels in shallower draft in.
“This is an issue that needs to be addressed, because it is preventing the Port of Karumba’s potential to thrive,” Mr Bradford said.
“Currently the KLE can export 1450 slaughter head or 1850 feeders but we have had bugger all shipments due to the channel.
“When we are going strong we go off a minimum of two shipments a month.”
KLE facility receive the cattle five days prior to the shipment as a control measure for stress. Taking two to three days to process the cattle, followed by a rest day before loading.
While the cattle are yarded at the facility, they are fed the same feed they would receive on the ship. Mr Bradford said this was to partially condition them for their journey.
“This is so the exporter doesn’t lose weight off the cattle and therefore lose money,” he said.
“We get them going on that pre-feed and then when they are on the ship it usually takes them a day to get their sea legs and then they are back on their feed and holding or gaining weight.
“Our loading process takes up to 24 hours, so we come in on a high tide and go out on a high tide.”
KLE sources most of their cattle locally and exports them to Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
NOTE: Ports North and Mount Isa MP Robbie Katter were requested to respond on the dredging operation but did not respond in time of print deadline.