September 29 - Construction works at the Port of Townsville in northern Australia could start next year after the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the port expansion project was approved.

The Port of Townsville ceo, Ranee Crosby, said the AUD1.6 billion (USD1.2 billion), 30-year development plan would ensure the port keeps up pace with global and domestic demands.

"By 2045 the Port of Townsville will create up to six new berths, new land for cargo handling, and widen and deepen the channels for bigger ships," explained Crosby.

The AUD193 million (USD151 million) channel capacity upgrade will be the first work to start under the Townsville Port Expansion Project, and involves the widening of the shipping channels to accommodate larger ships.

The Queensland Government has committed AUD75 million (USD58 million) towards the channel works, which will start next year pending Commonwealth approval of the additional environmental impact statement and finalisation of funding.  A decision by the Commonwealth Government is anticipated by October, 24.