By Christopher Williams

Famous for its hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, the northern New Brunswick village of Belledune became a thriving industrial centre in the 1960s supporting regional lead and zinc mines. The community remains home to the lead smelter owned by Glencore, a 450 megawatt thermal generating station, a modern sawmill facility owned by Chaleur Sawmill Associates, and a wood pellet plant owned by Shaw Resources.

Port of Belledune, the region’s year-round marine transport facility with deep water access to key northern markets such as the Eastern Arctic, Newfoundland and Labrador, boasts world-class facilities, highways and rail connections. Port of Belledune is an intermodal exchange point that’s big on modular fabrication, value-added wood products and just about everything else!

Last year, the Port Authority did so unexpectedly well financially that its long-time President and CEO, Rayburn Doucett, decided to wait another year for retirement. “It turned out be a good year, so I changed my mind,” Mr. Doucett chuckles. “The year marked several important milestones including securing long-term contracts with Eastern Canada Stevedoring at Terminal 3, NB Power, Operator of Terminal 2, Irving Oil at our liquid bulk storage tanks and discussions are ongoing with Terminal 1 Operator, Glencore Canada Corporation-Brunswick Smelter,” he said. “We also learned a lot about dealing with the challenges of lengthy global economic challenges.”

Mr. Doucett says BPA is enjoying continued success in 2014 and is currently discussing opportunities for diversifying its cargo base in bulk, breakbulk and unitized cargoes. “For example, we are pursuing new markets for aggregates that are plentiful in this region and are of superior quality. We also have a pending land sale that would see crude oil railed to Belledune from Alberta, and then exported by sea. These new opportunities will provide for improved cargo throughput, jobs and related economic spin-off benefits throughout the region in the years ahead,” foresees Doucett.

Last year, BPA saw a 10.5-per-cent decrease in tonnage handled and a one-per-cent decrease in vessels calling on the port. Nevertheless, the Port produced revenues of $8,062,787 and reported a net income $2,093,004.

BPA’s Board of Directors is led by Barry Kyle, who for the fourth consecutive year was named one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Business Magazine. Mr. Kyle is President of Industrial Rubber Ltd. in nearby Bathurst which has supplied and manufactured industrial rubber products for nearly 30 years.

Strong leadership by its Board, executive, customers and government has helped the Port advance dramatically over the last 20 years. With the addition of two, three, and then four terminals – the fourth (Roll-On Roll-Off Terminal 4) aptly named after Rayburn Doucett to recognize his lifetime of contributions to the region – a Modular Component Fabrication Facility was recently built only one kilometre from the Bay of Chaleur. The state-of-the art facility consists of two buildings with a combined area of more than 12,000 square metres. Equipped with two 20-tonne overhead cranes on an industrial zoned site, the hanger-style building can be used to cut and assemble large modular units such as interlocking buildings. Huge modules can be moved down a slow grade and loaded on ships for final assembly in destinations like the high arctic. This investment has created limitless possibilities for fabrication, metal working, assembly, and storage. There is also a new barge facility at the port for shipping oversized cargo.

Terminal 1 continues to be leased long-term to Brunswick Mining and Smelting (a division of Glencore) and is equipped with a dry bulk conveyor and ship loader. Terminal 2 was built in 1991 to serve a NB Power 450 megawatt generating station adjacent to the port. The terminal is capable of handling vessels up to a 100,000 DWT maximum and also serves Panamax ships hauling cargo from the U.S. and South America.

The port’s M.D. Young Terminal (Terminal 3), built in 1998, is a modern facility operated by Eastern Canada Stevedoring which handles bulk and general cargo including containers, vehicles, resource products, and specialized cargo. “This general cargo terminal really opened the door for more business at the port,” notes Jenna MacDonald, the Port Authority’s Director of Marketing. “Consequently, we have extended our scope of services to handle cargo of all shapes and sizes, including heavy and oversized cargo, mobile homes, wind mills, timber, paper products, consumables, and consumer merchandise.” Ms. MacDonald emphasizes that the Port is served by CN Rail and is accessible by highway route 134, with close connections to routes 11, 8 and 17 in northern New Brunswick. “Companies often contract barges in Belledune to haul modular homes and equipment to mega projects,” adds MacDonald. “We are also known to have shipped an entire village to Nunavut by barge, including parts of a pre-built school and a church.”

The Port Authority is proud to host the Association of Canadian Port Authorities’ 56th Annual Conference from August 17–20, 2014. “This is a big highlight for us,” said Chairman Barry Kyle. “It’s the first time Belledune has ever hosted this kind of event. This year’s theme, ‘Anchors Away’, promises to deliver a comprehensive and informative business program that will address global shipping trends and markets with a local feel.