February 23 - In Australia, the Port of Townsville Ltd (POTL) has announced three companies have been shortlisted and invited to submit proposals to operate its Berth 4 container and general cargo terminal.

The three include Australian Amalgamated Terminals (AAT); DP World Australia and Townsville Bulk Storage and Handling.

"This process will secure an operator that will grow northern Australia's largest general cargo and container port, and a designated priority port in Queensland," said treasurer, Curtis Pitt.

Ports minister Mark Bailey said the upgrade of Berth 4 would double Townsville port's container trade capacity.

POTL chief executive officer, Ranee Crosby, said that the successful operator of the berth will invest in cranes and cargo terminal areas, will increase the number of shipping lines calling Townsville, and ensure terminal operations are nationally competitive.

"To cater for growth in trade, in particular containerised and general cargo, POTL is currently undertaking a AUD40.7 million (USD31.45 million) redevelopment of Berth 4," Crosby said.

"Construction work commenced in April 2016 and is planned for completion in December 2017.

"Submissions from the shortlisted parties are due in April 2017, with a preferred terminal operator expected to be selected by June 2017."

The Port of Townsville's eight operational berths handle containerised, dry bulk, bulk liquid as well as breakbulk and project cargoes.