ALBANY, AUSTRALIA — CBH Group recently loaded its largest canola cargo ever on a single ship at its Albany port terminal as part of a trial shipment that reflects the company’s drive to adapt its operations to Western Australia’s expanding grain production.

The Efessos Wave was safely filled with 64,003 tonnes of canola during the last days of January, beginning a 39-day journey to the Belgian port of Ghent, CBH said. This was the largest vessel to berth at CBH’s Albany terminal after careful planning and execution by all the plan’s stakeholders.

Pia Wyngaard, head of chartering at CBH, said that demonstrating the ability to safely receive and maximize capacity of larger vessels will have significant and positive impact on CBH’s business going forward.  

“This higher loaded tonnage trial meant we were able to load about 4,000 tonnes more than we would have otherwise,” Wyngaard said. “More loaded grain will increase port throughput, reduce freight costs and provide greater supply chain efficiencies. Additionally, it will help to reduce emissions — using larger and full ships means less ships.”

CBH said Western Australia’s consecutive record harvests, strong market demand and the cooperative’s future growth plans will test the ship-size limits of the Albany port harbor. This trial was able to get a post-Panamax vessel, a ship with a wider beam, safely in and out of the harbor with the most grain able to fit the vessel’s integrity and draft.

The CBH Group is Australia’s largest co-operative and a leader in the Australian grain industry, with operations extending along the value chain from fertilizer to grain storage, handling, transport, marketing and processing.

Last year, CBH Marketing and Trading shipped a record 9.8 million tonnes of grain aboard a record 214 vessels across its four Western Australia ports. This year, canola receivals into the CBH system have reached a record 4 million tonnes.

In its Jan. 9 harvest report, CBH said grain receivals for 2022-23 totaled 21.3 million tonnes as of Jan. 5, breaking the 90-year-old company record set just last year. 

The cooperative also shipped a single-month record 2.18 million tonnes of grain and railed 1 million tonnes in December 2022. This shattered the previous monthly shipping record of 1.89 million tonnes set in January 2017 by 15%.

Richard Doak, Albany port manager at CBH, said the Port of Albany canola ship-loading trial will most likely change how CBH utilizes the port going forward.  

“We load on average about 80 vessels each year from our berth (in Albany) with an average shipping tonnage of 2.8 million to 2.9 million tonnes per annum, depending on harvest size and customer demand,” Doak said. “With Western Australia grain growers delivering record harvests and our CBH Path to 2033 requiring capacity to export 3 million tonnes per month in 10 years’ time, we need to adapt our port systems and their planning and operations to support the changing circumstances.”