THE Port of Portland has officially broken its record for the highest amount of product to pass through its docks.
Port bosses confirmed yesterday more than 6.2 million tonnes passed through its berths in the 2013-14 financial year.
“That exceeded last year’s high record of 5.4 million tonnes, which was recorded the same time last year and the year before,” port chief executive Jim Cooper told The Standard.
He said it was an encouraging sign for the city. “The significance is that we’ve been a bright spot in the south-west in terms of business.”
The surge in exports is being driven by Chinese demand for woodchips to make into paper products.
Up to 1.7 million tonnes of the product was loaded on to ships, with the trend likely to stay on course.
“We’ve forecast a similar amount for next year. It looks like a big year for forestry in logs and woodchips,” he said.
Raw material for Portland Aluminium also contributed another one million tonnes.
Grain, mineral sands and timber logs also drove export figures. “During grain season we have 300,000 tonnes that comes into the port on trains,” Mr Cooper said.
The port employs around 80 people but between 400 and 500 people can be working on the docks at any one time.
Up to 300 ships berthed at the port during the year.
Mr Cooper said a new generation of woodchip cargo vessels were taking 25 per cent more compared to five years ago.
“So we’re actually seeing fewer big ships as our cargo goes up,” he said.
Despite the record growth the port boss said there are enough roads, berths and rail infrastructure to cope with demand. He said the development of the Port of Hastings would have “zero effect” on Portland, which operates almost entirely for export.