PEV's Atlantic Canada Bulk Terminal is located on what used to be the Sydney Steel Plant wharf.
When the steel plant was first built in the opening years of the 1900s, a complex of three finger piers extended into the harbour near this site. These three piers were located at the base of Dominion St. in the Whitney Pier district. A coal loading pier was situated to the north, a steel shipping pier in the middle, and a materials unloading pier on the south side.
The coal pier was a double-deck structure. It was designed so that coal cars could roll up onto the upper level and then discharge their coal into ships docked by the lower level.
The middle steel-loading pier was a flat, one level structure with four cranes - the setup made it possible to work the ships four cargo holes simultaneously.
The material-unloading pier to the south was known as the high pier because of its two deck structure. The lower part of the pier was where the ships tied up. The upper deck was a trestle upon which railroad cars were shunted to be loaded.
Four cranes towered above the upper deck. Each crane had a clamshell bucket that could be lowered into the holds of ships, where they would grab loads of iron ore. The four cranes meant that four ship holds could be emptied at the same time. The ore would be lifted out of the ship and dropped into the rail cars. When filled, those rail cars were hauled a short distance to the blast furnace stockpile.
Usually a ship carried about 10,000 tons of iron ore and would be about 6 feet above the water when it docked. When it was fully unloaded it would have been about 30 feet out of the water.
Further extensions were added to this dock in 1974 to create the 1170-foot-long berthing area that exists today.
Original finger piers that serviced the steel plant
Ship being unloaded at one of the original finger piers
These piers played major roles during WWII. The convoys that supplied the lifeline to England formed up in Sydney Harbour before heading overseas.
The convoys formed at Sydney for they were coal fired steamers who took on their coal bunker at the coal pier before leaving the safe confines of Sydney Harbour. The materials that passed through the other two piers helped to produce the massive amounts of steel required by the war effort of Canada.
By 1966 the low pier and the high pier had become obsolete. The high pier was unable to service the larger self unloaders coming into use: therefore, the pier was replaced by a new material unloading dock with a traveling tower- today the dock is known as the Atlantic Canada Bulk Terminal.
A conveyor belt traveled from the new unloader up to the blast furnace stockpile area, replacing the old load and dump car system. Today the original coal, low and high piers, along with the newer unloader, are gone. The Heade crane that was used as a steel loader is still on the site, but is no longer used.
We are proud of our facility and the role it played in the war effort and a century of steel making in Sydney!
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