PPA upbeat on cattle revival

Zach RelphThe West Australian
Cattle in a Port Hedland stock yard.
Camera IconCattle in a Port Hedland stock yard. Credit: Alex Massey

Cattle exports from Port Hedland are expected to increase in the next 12 months after a sole livestock carrier departed the maritime facility last year.

Filipino vessel the MV Devon Express was the only live cattle shipment to leave the Pilbara Port Authority-controlled Port of Port Hedland in 2018 when it set sail on September 26, carrying 2714 head of cattle.

The departure, which was bound for Panjang Port in Indonesia, marked the third live export shipment to leave Port Hedland since 2013 after two voyages in 2017.

Despite the recent lull in terminal use, PPA live export manager Jon Giles was upbeat about the port’s live cattle resurgence.

“Pilbara Ports Authority had expected that cattle exporters would use Port Hedland Port more regularly in 2018 given the available cattle-loading infrastructure that presents benefits for animal welfare and the flow-on financial benefits to Pilbara pastoralists,” he said.

“Pilbara Ports Authority anticipates that cattle exporters will use the Port of Port Hedland in 2019, however, the logistical decision on which port to use remains with the livestock exporter.”

In comparison, the Kimberley Port Authority, which operates the Broome Port, is celebrating a strong end to the 2018 season, with nearly 85,000 head of cattle exported to Indonesia and Vietnam.

Twenty-two live cattle voyages left Broome Port in 12 months, highlighted by two late voyages in November — transporting 5735 head — to lift the yearly amount to 83,454 cattle shipped.

The total was expected to lift to 85,354 by the end of 2018, with Barkly Pearl anchored off Broome waiting to load 1900 cattle late last month. The 2018 total marked a 13.3 per cent drop in cattle exports over the calendar year and the lowest amount of cattle shipped since 2013 when 69,606 head departed.

The figure comes after 100,430 live cattle were shipped from Broome Port in 2014, followed by 115,316 in 2015, 97,153 in 2016, and 96,285 in 2017.

There were 15,113 cattle exported at the Port of Wyndham for 2018, after the Cambridge Gulf Limited-operated port rebounded from a slow start to the year with 2637 head exported within the first six months.

The latest industry study, released by Mecardo last month, revealed WA held a 25 per cent stake in Australia’s $1.2 billion live cattle export trade.

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