The records continue to tumble at the South Shields-based Port of Tyne after strong financial results were revealed for 2014.
Turnover, while still almost at the record level of the previous year, was down very slightly by 3% – at £71.5million.
The port has shown a strong performance in the past 12 months, both in terms of volumes and financial results.Andrew Moffat
But profit before tax almost doubled to more than £10.2million, close to the record performance reported in 2012.
Overall cargo volumes handled on the River Tyne at 6.7 million tonnes was the highest for over 25 years.
The port handled more than 5 million tonnes of conventional and bulk cargo in 2014, accounting for 75% of the volumes handled in total.
Coal volumes dropped from 4.9 million tonnes to 2.7 million tonnes in 2014, and while the volume of wood pellet almost doubled to 1.9 million tonnes, this increase was not enough to offset the reduction in coal volumes.
The balance was made up of cargoes of scrap metal, steel and grain, which added 0.4m tonnes, similar to the levels seen in 2013.
Andrew Moffat, the port’s chief executive officer, said: “The port has shown a strong performance in the past 12 months, both in terms of volumes and financial results.
“EBITDA, our earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, was over £17million, almost equalling our record performance recorded in 2012.
“Overall the reduction in coal volumes is due to reduced demand from the port’s power-generating customers.
“Factors influencing this include the prevailing market circumstances, weather conditions, and lower prices associated with alternative fuel sources such as gas and oil.
“In addition, the planned conversion of coal-fired power stations to wood pellet has not happened as quickly as originally anticipated.”
Mr Moffat revealed that the number of jobs in the wider community supported by the port also increased, to more than 11,200.