More than 2.3 million tonnes – mostly raw logs – was exported from Eastland Port during the past 12 months, a record that smashes the company’s previous best year.
The total tonnage of 2.302 million tonnes eclipses the port’s 2014 result of 2.274 million tonnes, and is a 59,000 increase on the 2015 throughput, despite uncertain indications from forestry customers earlier in the year.
The port’s general manager, Andrew Gaddum says the results are encouraging for the port, the forestry industry, and consequently for the Tairawhiti region as a whole.
“The port provides vital infrastructure for a forestry industry that continues to grow, and which has been the single biggest contributor to Gisborne’s GDP since 2012.”
Of the 133 ships to dock at Eastland Port over the 2016 financial year, 113 were logging ships, reflected in the fact that 98.4% of total exports were raw logs. The remaining exports were squash and kiwifruit. In addition to export vessels, 11 cruise ships visited during the 12 months to 31 March 2016.
Mr Gaddum says Eastland Port is proud to be the country’s most efficient logging port. Eastland Group bought the port from Gisborne District Council in 2003 and has steadily grown export volumes – mostly raw logs – from 480,000 tonnes in 2003 to a record 2.3 million tonnes this financial year.
The port’s busiest ever month was recorded in February this year, with a total cargo of 264,000 exported.
“We’ve worked hard with our customers and suppliers to introduce systems and processes that move logs as efficiently as possible. Every single log is barcoded then scanned in and out, and an individual log stays an average of just eight days on port.”
He says huge improvements to environmental processes have also been implemented at the port over the past 12 months. Recently-completed projects include the $11 million redevelopment of the upper log yard and the introduction of a world class water treatment system.
“We’re continually looking at new ways to minimise our environmental footprint at the same time as we’re helping customers to move their logs offshore. Our water treatment systems are second to none, they are absolutely the best in the country. New rain gardens are going in at the upper log yard this week and they are just one more step in the water treatment process to ensure we’re doing everything we can.”
Eastland Port is also in the process of making resource consent applications for the redevelopment of the wharfside log yard.
“When Eastland Group bought the port from the council in 2003, none of the log storage areas were consented. We’ve invested $30 million in upgrading the southern and upper log yards and this wharfside log yard is really the final major redevelopment required. We’re hoping to be underway later this year. We want to see that area sealed and another world class water treatment system installed there.”
Mr Gaddum says the port’s agreement with Gisborne District Council means the wharfside log yard will be closed for log storage from 30 June until it is fully redeveloped and consented.
Eastland Group chief executive, Matt Todd, says the company has spent around $75 million on capital enhancements since 2010 and plans to invest just as significantly over the next five years to accommodate customer projections for forestry harvest.
“The East Coast forestry industry provides opportunity and employment for our entire region. Our aim is to provide excellent infrastructure to support the forestry sector, and also the region’s overall economic development,” says Mr Todd.
“Eastland Group’s strategy is to find investment opportunities that add tangible value to our customers’ business. The port’s debarking operation – a partnership with Hikurangi Forest Farms – is one way we’ve added value for forestry customers. The process of debarking and anti-sap staining generates additional value for their logs.”
The debarking operation completely removes the bark from logs, rendering them insect free and able to be loaded as deck cargo without the issues associated with traditional methyl bromide treatment. The removal of the bark also allows for a few more to be loaded into a ship’s cargo hold.
Eastland Port shipping trends – total export volumes