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China Communications Construction Company tours Port of Sydney, study in the works

An aerial view of Sydney Harbour, Cape Breton.
Published on March 16, 2016  |  THE CHRONICLE HERALD
Sydney port officials are hoping to have a shipper, business plan and feasibility study for a Sydney container hub within six months.
“That’s the bar we’ve set,” said Paul Carrigan, general manager of the Port of Sydney Development Corp.
Business development officials from China Communications Construction Company, along with engineers and shipping experts, toured the port over the weekend.
They are part of a group working with Bechtel to look at Sydney as a potential container transshipment facility.

Mayor Cecil Clarke travelled to China last year to find parties interested in port development. Quad-C, as some locals now call it, was one of the companies he saw.

“Sydney wasn’t even on their map until then,” said Carrigan in an interview.

They like the fact that it’s a deep water port, there is available land and few obstacles.

But they want to see the port up close — infrastructure, harbour contours, crane requirements — before making any decisions.

He said CCCC expects to complete the study within six months.

“Time is short, but we believe there is a business case now.”

The Chinese company has also been evaluating studies conducted on the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway.

A container port would need rail access and operator Genessee and Wyoming has indicated it wants to shut down its Cape Breton rail line and tear up the tracks.

But Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan, who was in Sydney for the port tour Saturday, made it clear last week that an abandonment is not going to happen any time soon.

“It won’t be an overnight tearing up of the tracks,” the minister said after cabinet Thursday.

The rail company is expected to file before the end of the month to abandon the line.

But it will have to meet a number of provincial requirements, yet to be laid out, before gaining approval.

Success for the line, longterm, hinges on container traffic from the port of Sydney, MacLellan said, and “you have to have tracks to run a railway.”

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