Maintenance dredging will be done at Hay Point from November.
Maintenance dredging will be done at Hay Point from November. Lee Constable

Dredging work for coal port

MAINTENANCE dredging at Hay Point Port will begin in November.

In one year up to 208,000cu m of sediment can be removed, with approval to remove 378,000cu m.

A NQBP spokesman said Hay Point required minimal maintenance dredging.

"Dredging is fundamental to the development and maintenance of Australia's crucial maritime arterials and is vital to the safe operation of our port facilities," he said.

The dredging is required to ensure channels and approaches are at a safe depth for incoming vessels.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation has been granted permits until May 2017 for the dredging.

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Ellen Roberts said it was concerning that ongoing dredging was needed.

"GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) has said that they're expecting the port to come up with a plan as to how they're going to avoid doing ongoing maintenance dredging ... but there is no plan yet," she said.

The issue of dredging and where dredge spoil is dumped is contentious, with conservation groups against plans to dredge and expand Abbot Point near Bowen.

However, there is a clear difference between maintenance dredging and capital dredging for new or expanded ports. The former involves removing sediment that settles into channels, while capital dredging involves the removal and relocation of natural seabed to increase water depth.

Ms Roberts said it was concerning that chemical testing of material to be dredged near the current jetty had not been done.

Dredging material from the maintenance work will be dumped in an existing approved area. According to NQBP, the area is frequently monitored for water quality, coral and sea grass.


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