The new coastal shipping network excites those with skin in the game, carting goods from isolated locations like the West Coast

A mining company expects a new regional shipping network will unlock hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in commodities in the resource-rich West Coast.

This week, the Government unveiled $30 million of funding for coastal shipping through the National Land Transport Programme.

The scheme aims to improve domestic shipping services, reduce emissions, boost efficiency and upgrade maritime infrastructure.

The preferred suppliers for the scheme are Coastal Bulk Shipping, Move International, Swire Shipping NZ, and the Aotearoa Shipping Alliance.

The Alliance’s spokesperson Ray Mudgway is among those in celebration mode after this week’s announcement. 

He’s managing director of mining company Westland Mineral Sand, one of the four entities that make up the Alliance, alongside Te Rimu Trust, Tainui Kawhia, Ngati Waewae.

According to Mudgway, there’s hundreds of millions of dollars in goods between the four entities that will be more easily tapped into, including forestry assets, mineral deposits and other supplies such as rock and sand that can be used in building supplies.

“The West Coast resources are well known globally, but one of the constraints has always been logistics,” he says.

Without coastal shipping, the product would have to be transported by truck or railway to the East Coast, before shipping elsewhere.

Westland Mineral Sand managing director Ray Mudgway says the network will allow it to rev up operations. Photo: Supplied

“All of those assets are in quite remote places. Coastal shipping will be a good, long-term and sustainable solution that will give us some scale and make those resources sustainable and in an efficient way.”

Westland Mineral Sand will be one business that will benefit from the shipping network – it has been granted resource consent to mine on a private freehold farm just out of Westport. 

It will be collecting the sand and processing it using water and gravity to extract minerals such as garnet, and other rare earth elements.

Once the minerals have been collected, most of the sand will then be returned to where it was mined, before the land is recontoured and the farm pasture is resowed. 

The minerals and remaining sand will be carted off to market on the new shipping network.

He expects the company will pull $70 to $100 million into the local economy and create hundreds of jobs once it hits its growth phase.

But for now, the company is pushing to create 40 new full time jobs on the West Coast. 

Westland Mineral Sand is funding redevelopment of Westport Port (pictured). Photo: Supplied

Each of the four suppliers will bring at least one coasting shipping vessel into the works, and invest more than $60 million, taking the total investment to $90 million.

Mudgway is confident there’s enough funding to get the network running with the money that’s on the table.

“[It’s an] expensive system to put in place. For us, we’re comfortable with the level of investment,” he says.

The company has been on a global search for vessels and is set to finalise negotiations with a preferred supplier in Singapore next month.

Mudgway is anticipating it could be nine to 12 months before the ship is out on the water if that goes ahead.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Union of New Zealand is heralding the funding as a game-changer.

Its national secretary Craig Harrison expects to see four or more New Zealand operated ships kick into action on our coasts.

It’s essential these new ships bear the New Zealand flag, and are crewed by Kiwi, to build resilience and capability in the shipping sector.

He says these extra ships will have a substantial positive impact on New Zealand’s supply chain crisis as well as providing environmental benefits.

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