By Tom Peters

The cargo-handling diversity of Richmond Terminal at the port of Halifax has helped attract different cargoes and has opened the door to new opportunities for increased trade with the implementation last fall of the new free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.

“The free trade agreement with Europe (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) certainly holds promise,” said Halifax Port Authority’s (HPA) Lane Farguson. He said it is too early to say how cargo over the terminal and through the port will be impacted but the potential for Richmond is there and “will develop over time as local importers and exporters look to take advantage of it and move their offerings into those markets,” he said. “It is not expected to bump cargo up overnight, but it does create opportunities.”

The Richmond Terminal, which handles bulk, breakbulk, ro/ro and heavy lift cargoes, reopened for business in late 2014 after a $64-million upgrade and expansion. Dock space was increased to 450 metres with water depth of 13.5 metre. The facility has 7,000 square metres of shed space and over two hectares of laydown area.

Since reopening, the facility has attracted vessels for ship repair and has been a base for supply boats supporting the offshore oil and gas industry.

While the port has seen a strong increase in container cargo in 2017, up 16 per cent, and overall port tonnage is up, general cargo tonnage has shown a decrease. Richmond Terminal and Ocean Terminal, which handle Halifax’ non-containerized cargo, between them handled 371,913 metric tonnes in 2017, down about 9 per cent year-over-year, said Farguson..

The Port’s spokesman said Richmond tonnages have been impacted by energy prices and challenging conditions for newsprint and forestry related producers. “So when you look at goods moving over Richmond and consider what is happening in those markets, there would be a direct correlation,” he said. However, Farguson pointed out that the Port Authority’s business development team “is working to grow the ro/ro business through both Richmond and Ocean and is also looking to work with CN to move project cargo on intermodal rail.”

Longer term, the Port is hoping Richmond will be a key facility in developing Halifax as Canada’s eastern breakbulk and general cargo gateway.