RECORDS are continuing to be smashed and jobs created at Port of Tyne, it was announced today.
The borough port last year achieved its highest cargo volumes for 50 years, breaking its own records for cargo handling and passenger numbers.
Plus, the port created 54 new jobs to support its ambitious growth plans.
Port of Tyne currently provides about £500m gross added value (GVA) to the North East economy and supports about 10,000 jobs.
But a port boss has warned that high investment levels could impact on the company’s next set of trading figures.
In total, 8.1 million tonnes of cargo was handled on the Tyne during 2013, the largest volume since 1965.
This was a 22 per cent increase on 2012, which itself was a record year, at 6.5 million tonnes.
Of the total river cargo, 97 per cent was handled at Port of Tyne-owned berths.
Imported coal and wood pallet volumes were at the highest level ever recorded, with almost five million tonnes of coal and one million tonnes of the relatively new cargo, wood pellet – which is used as an alternative fuel by power stations in the generation of renewable energy.
The number of passengers using the port’s International Passenger Terminal at North Shields set new records for both the daily Amsterdam route operated by DFDS and for cruise passengers. A total of 625,000 passengers – a rise of four per cent – travelled through the terminal, including some 64,000 passengers from the 32 cruise ships that visited the port last year.
The port also created 54 new jobs, including a dozen new apprenticeships to support growth – an 11 per cent increase in the total workforce, which now stands at 566.
There has also been significant investment in port infrastructure, including plans to expand wood pellet handling, storage and transportation facilities.
Andrew Moffat, chief executive officer at Port of Tyne, said: “Activity levels in 2013 have underpinned our strategy for growth and upholds our decision to aim for further expansion going forwards.
“We have continued to invest heavily in the port and in the workforce to help us achieve our aim of further growth and business expansion in the context of increasing competition in the UK port sector.
“We have been exceptionally busy in response to global markets, in particular to meet the demand for coal and wood pellet for UK power station customers, and we have maintained our share of the market in all our other business areas.”
Mr Moffat added: “Being busy does of course bring with it challenges, especially for our personnel, who have responded magnificently throughout a period of organisational development and change.
“I am expecting a strong set of financial results but our year-on-year performance will be negatively impacted by the significant investment in wood pellet development costs, crane repair costs and the associated impact on productivity.
“Overall, we are pleased with activity levels and gratified that we can continue to contribute positively to the region’s economy with the continued support of our partners, customers, employees and other stakeholders.”