Port Lincoln develops natural resources

Posted on 12/11/2009  

I'VE been watching Port Lincoln in South Australia for years, awaiting compelling economic evidence to include it in Hotspotting reports. I believe that point has arrived.

Approval for the development of an export port to service the emerging resources industry on the Eyre Peninsula is one of those events, as is the creation a tuna breeding industry with big repercussions for the local economy.
Port Lincoln, a port town of 15,000 on the Eyre Peninsula, markets itself as 'the seafood capital of Australia'. As with most claims of this nature, there's a degree of exaggeration and some element of truth.

Port Lincoln is undoubtedly renowned for its fishing: the industry is a cornerstone of the local economy and the town claims to have Australia's largest commercial fishing fleet.

One of the factors I look for is a diverse economy, not solely dependent on a dominant industry.

Port Lincoln is a regional centre for government administration and corporate services, a popular destination for tourists and a service centre for surrounding agriculture. (Its grain-handling silos have a total capacity of 340,000 tonnes.)

Tourism is important.

Port Lincoln is located near 60,000ha of national parks. The Lincoln National Park offers fantastic coastal landscapes and good surfing beaches, while Cape Carrot has great scenery and Sleaford Bay offers fine beaches.

One of the recent events that makes Port Lincoln interesting to property investors and developers is the creation of a successful tuna breeding program. This is a world first, described by Clean Seas Tuna chairman Hagen Stehr as a ``walking on the moon'' milestone for the fishing industry. The success in rearing southern bluefin tuna in captivity opens the way for a multi-billion-dollar tuna breeding and farming industry.

Tuna has almost been wiped out by over-fishing and a sustainable fishery has been the industry's holy grail. The project, involving the Australian Seafood Co-operative Research Centre, the Fisheries Research Development Corporation and the South Australian Research and Development Institute, aims to produce 250,000 bluefin at a hatchery on the Eyre Peninsula by 2015.

In another important development for the Port Lincoln fishing industry, the state government has signed an agreement with the French chapter of Europe's association of leading chefs, Euro-Toques International, to include South Australian tuna, yellow-tail kingfish and oysters on the menus of French restaurants.

Developers of the next stage of the Port Lincoln marina have presented new plans to Port Lincoln Council, after initial plans were rejected last year. The Sarin Group hopes to spend $100 million on the Lincoln Cove Marina expansion, which will include 300 waterfront allotments.

There is also a proposal by Port Lincoln mayor Peter Davis for a $1 billion resort development on Boston Island, just off Port Lincoln. The island is farmland that has been owned by Davis's family for 150 years but is considered to be no longer economically viable as a farm.

The Eyre Peninsula is emerging as a location for resources activity. A plan to export iron ore from Port Lincoln received state approval last month, clearing the way for the region's first new iron ore mine in a century.

Centrex Metals plans to export 1.6 million tonnes of iron ore through Port Lincoln for 10 years after spending $150m constructing port facilities. The Centrex mine will be near Lock on the Eyre Peninsula, creating 150 full-time jobs and up to 450 indirect jobs, as well as injecting $70m into the regional economy each year.

It will be developed in a joint venture with Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation.

Adelaide Resources has teamed up with Southern Uranium to explore for uranium on the eastern Eyre Peninsula. The Yalanda Hill joint venture has revealed prospects for uranium and other minerals through previous work.

Other resources companies active in the area recently include Lincoln Minerals, which has been exploring its Gum Flat iron ore holding just outside Port Lincoln.

Eyre Peninsula is seen as a key region in the development of renewable energy projects in South Australia. The 66-megawatt Cathedral Rocks wind farm 30km west of Port Lincoln was developed in 2007 at a cost of $200m by Roaring 40s Renewable Energy in joint venture with Spanish company Acciona Energy.

One of the new ventures is the possibility of a wave energy power plant. A $5m pilot plant was approved recently by government.
The Port Lincoln property market is overdue for some growth. The last spike in house prices was in 2003 and since then growth in the median house price has been subdued.

Port Lincoln recorded a median house price of $255,000 for the 12 months to August (Australian Property Monitors), the long-term growth average is about 10 per cent a year and vacancies, according to sqmresearch.com.au, are low. So the market offers affordability and solidity.

From Terry Ryder's Hotspotting Column published in the Prime Space section of The Australian.

« Back