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Coal volumes may rise 50% at Lyttelton Port

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Friday 6th October 2000

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The Lyttelton Port Company says the low kiwi dollar augurs well for increasing coal volumes through the port this year.

Speaking at the company's AGM today chairman, Brent Layton, said the volume of coal exported through the port bounced back last year to 1.4 million tonnes, and may grow by up to 50% in the short to medium term.

Mr Layton says while discussions with Solid Energy about its future requirements are ongoing, the port could handle a 50% increase in coal volumes from current levels with modest levels of capital expenditure.

The port company says it is also expecting a boom summer for tourist ship visits, with more 31 bookings already for the coming summer season and indications that up to 50 vessels could visit the following summer.

"New Zealand is a hot destination, and Lyttelton is a popular place for the vessels to call because of the tourist attractions in the Canterbury region," says Mr Layton.

Another area the company is planning to capitalise on is the introduction of much bigger container vessels at the port.

Mr Layton some months ago shipping line P&O Nedlloyd announced its intention to introduce super container ships which will carry up to 1500 containers at a time compared to the 1000 which regular container ships exchange.

"Lyttelton is very well placed compared with most other ports in New Zealand to handle these vessels in terms of draught and ease of navigation. We will, however, have to increase our crane capacity, the length of berth over which we can operate the cranes, the number of straddle carriers we can deploy, and our ability to handle trucks. Planning for these requirements is underway."

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