April 1, 2013

Bunge to export grain from Bunbury port, Australia


Bunge will begin grain exports from Bunbury port in Western Australia by the middle of 2014, in addition to building a 50,000-tonne storage facility as part of an investment of up to US$40 million as it prepares for the biggest shake up in its history.


Bunge has begun site work on land at Bunbury Port, which last saw grain exports in 1988.


Transport Minister Troy Buswell has cleared the way for Bunge to export 500,000 tonnes of grain a year from Bunbury but the company hopes to build up to about one million tonnes. Bunge Australia general manager Chris Aucote described the move as a quantum leap forward for the company in Australia which up until now has been a relatively small player in Western Australia (WA) grain trading.


Aucote said Bunge was in discussions with farmer groups about supplying grain to the port, with Wagin the centre of the growing region in its sights. "We have got to make sure it is a viable economic alternative for farmers in that region and we will be working with farmers to make sure they see it that way," he said.


"It is a vote of confidence in the WA grain industry that a company like Bunge is willing to invest for the long term. We see growth in the Asia markets and we see growth in the WA grain industry as well, and we want to be part of it."


Bunge will use existing woodchip loading facilities to load its shipments. "We will be making shipments and then looking to re-fill the facility to load the next shipment," Aucote said. "That is the most economical way to do it because the costs of building storage at port is significantly more expensive that storing grain up country."


Bunge is considering its options for up-country storage, but they include significant on-farm storage. Aucote said that safe transport of the grain via road into Bunbury was a priority for Bunge, which would offer growers competitive freight rates.


The company revealed its plans publicly after a Chinese conglomerate confirmed it would begin exporting grain direct from its WA-owned farms to China this summer.


China's state-owned Beidahuang Group has secured access to storage and loading facilities at Albany Port through Geelong-based Vicstock Grain. The moves by Beidahuang and Bunge signal an end to CBH's monopoly on bulk exports from WA.


A number of international grain traders have expressed an interest in investing in a grain loading facility at James Point if the private port development near Cockburn goes ahead.

Video >

Follow Us