October 15 - The Northern Territory government has signed an agreement to lease the Port of Darwin to Chinese-owned Landbridge Group for the next 99 years.
Under the terms of the agreement, the territory will lease the Darwin Port land and facilities of East Arm Wharf, including the Darwin Marine Supply Base, and Fort Hill Wharf to energy and infrastructure company Landbridge Group.
The Northern Territory will retain Stokes Hill Wharf, Fisherman's & Hornibrook's Wharves and Frances Bay facilities. It will also retain a range of oversight and regulatory functions including the Regional Harbourmaster role and responsibility for price and access regulation, through the independent Utilities Commission.
Landbridge has confirmed its intent to maintain the established workforce at the Port of Darwin and says that there will be no forced redundancies during the term of the current Enterprise Agreement, which terminates in June 2018.
Landbridge also intends to implement a stable and competitive pricing regime for port services with no more than Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustments for the use of current port facilities.
Landbridge Group also operates a port in North Haizhou Bay in China's Shandong province, and is in the process of expanding its port capacity to in excess of 200 million tonnes per annum - more than 65 times the current volume at the Port of Darwin.
Landbridge Infrastructure Australia director, Mike Hughes, said: "Through our significant investment in the Port of Darwin, Landbridge intends to grow two-way trade between Australia and Asia, leveraging Landbridge's existing port and logistics businesses and firmly putting Darwin on the map for Chinese business.
"We plan on making considerable financial investment in the Port of Darwin. In addition to committing an initial USD35 million of new growth investment expenditure over the first five years, we anticipate in excess of USD200 million of capital expenditure over the next 25 years. Given the scope of development opportunities in the territory, we hope to invest a lot more."