The importance of Fremantle to the State's economy has been further underlined with record numbers of containers and exports handled through the port in the past 12 months.
The number of containers that passed over the Fremantle docks was 132,093 - up 9.5 per cent on the previous year and 316 more than the previous record set in 1989-90.
Total exports through the port were 10.7 million tonnes, up 322,000t on the record set the previous year.
Total port trade was 17.2mt - 5.3 per cent above the previous year's level and only 400,000t below the 1989-90 record.
Transport Minister Pam Beggs today said the overall increases through the port were excellent, considering the tight economic trade conditions in the past 12 months.
"Fremantle is responsible for almost 50 per cent by value of the State's trade," she said.
"This amounts to around $6 billion and given the size of exports from ports such as Port Hedland and Dampier in the State's North-West, this indicates the importance of Fremantle to the Western Australian economy."
Mrs Beggs said East and South-East Asia accounted for 52.8 per cent of the port's container trade, which further demonstrated Fremantle's importance as a national gateway for landbridging cargo to and from the eastern states.
Total imports for the year rose 9.1 per cent to 6.5 million tonnes. Imports through the inner harbour were up 68,000t with the outer harbour accounting for a 477,000t increase.
Inner harbour exports were up almost 200,000t while the figure for the outer harbour was up 123,000t.
Mrs Beggs said the biggest percentage increase in exports was recorded for lupins, the high energy protein source of which Western Australia is the world's leading exporter.
Lupin exports jumped 125 per cent or 150,000t to 271,000t.
Other export commodities to record big increases included:
· Mineral sands - up 61 per cent to 380,000t.
· Refined petroleum - up 6 per cent to 1.8mt.
· Wool - up 105 per cent to 203,000t.
· Sheep - up 6 per cent to 2.825m head.
· Hay chaff and fodder - up 53 per cent to 93,000t.
· Fresh fruit and vegetables - up 19 per cent to 67,000t.
· Oats - up 28 per cent to 54,000t.
· Barley - up 24 per cent to 43,000t.
Mrs Beggs said the main mineral export, alumina, recorded a 3.2 per cent fall to 3.08mt. Wheat exports also were down 4 per cent to 119,000t.
The Fremantle Port Authority's general cargo business, mostly breakbulk, through the inner harbour and imports through the Authority's bulk cargo jetty rose 14.6 per cent, although they were still down 23.6 per cent when compared with 1989-90.
Mrs Beggs said the container record was not reached until well into June, when 13,640 TEUs were handled.
The biggest increases in imported commodities were:
· Crude petroleum - up 8 per cent to 4.421mt.
· Caustic soda - up 18 per cent to 491,000t.
· Cement clinker - up 33 per cent to 92,000t.
· Phosphoric acid - up 315 per cent to 73,000t.
· Slag residue - up 88 per cent to 45,000t.
· Anhydrous ammonia - up 97 per cent to 41,000t.
Mrs Beggs said the record lupin shipments were another chapter in the remarkable success story of the WA-developed grain legume.
The Netherlands was the biggest importer of the grain through Fremantle, taking 120,000t compared with fewer than 25,000t the previous year.
* Container numbers are expressed in 'TEUs' - twenty-foot container equivalent units. This is the 'standard' container most commonly used.