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Ghent officially open to post-Panamax

Project3 16/5/07 9:11 pm Page 1

The Port of Ghent now officially of- fers access to post-Panamax bulk carriers up to an overall width of 37m. The breakthrough follows the heralded arrival of the 92,567 dwt bulk carrier EPTALOFOS, which suc- cessfully negotiated the locks at Terneuzen on Friday 5 March. Maxi- mum intake of a Panamax bulker is around 73,000t. The Greek-owned ship, carrying iron ore from Itaquí, Brasil, was the

third post-Panamax lock passage and the conclusive one, following two trial passages, in November 2008 and March 2009. It was closely scru- tinised by Dutch and Belgian mari- time authorities, which immediately awarded Gent 37m width clearance. Tantalisingly, there is still a 1m

clearance (0.5m port and starboard) between the hull and the lock fend- ers, which can be lifted out of the 260m x 40m lock. However, Gent is

not prepared to reflect, at least not yet, on the possible use of this mar- gin.

The 229.5m long EPTALOFOS is the

biggest ship ever to pass the locks and to enter Ghent (three hours later). It had first been lightered on the Terneuzen roads to reduce its draught to 12.5m. This is the restriction for the tide-free canal between the Dutch seaport of Terneuzen and Ghent, Belgium’s third biggest port that han- dled 21 mt of marine cargo in 2009. Gent’s long-standing demand to

The 229.5m-long vessel EPTALOFOS is the biggest ship ever to pass the locks at Terneuzen

“extend the envelope” is fuelled by the local ArcelorMittal steel works, which is wary of an increasing ocean freight rate handicap as Panamax ore carriers are gradually being replaced by bigger ships. The port will continue to lobby

for a second and bigger lock at Terneuzen to accommodate dwt capesize bulk carriers of about 140,000 dwt. Even after lightering by floating grab cranes in the Terneuzen roads, such ships would still carry about 110,000t of ore to Ghent ob- serving the 12.5m draught. Ideally, Ghent wants the canal to

be deepened to accommodate these ships with a maximum 14.5m draught, but this has massive cost and safety implications (road tun- nels, etc).

ArcelorMittal to expand iron

ore capacity

Luxembourg-based steelmaker ArcelorMittal is looking to expand in Liberia, Senegal, Mauritania and other countries to increase its iron ore production capacity from 60 mt to 100 mt by 2015. “We’ve faced very volatile con-

ditions in supplies and pricing of raw materials, especially iron ore and metallurgical coal,” board member Peter Kukielski said at the Asia Min- ing Congress in Singapore in March. “It’s not necessarily a model that lends itself to the steel industry.” ArcelorMittal plans to spend

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US$600M on iron ore expansion this year, Kukielski said, declining to give a total figure for the next five years. ArcelorMittal supplies about half

of its iron ore needs and plans to raise the share to 75-85% by 2014, Bill Scotting, head of strategy, said in De- cember. In related news, ArcelorMittal

bought another 4.9% stake in India’s Uttam Galva Steel in March for about $17M, increasing its shareholding to 33.8%. Uttam Galva, the Mumbai-based

specialty steel maker, has annual pro- duction capacity of 800,000t. ArcelorMittal is the world’s larg-

est steel company with over 281,000 employees in more than 60 countries. In 2009, it had revenues of $65.1B and crude steel production of 73.2 mt, representing about 6% of world steel output. ArcelorMittal, Japan’s Nippon

3470

Steel and South Korea’s Posco are seeking to purchase or expand mines to cut costs as Chinese demand crimps global iron ore supplies. Brazil’s Vale, the world’s largest

iron ore producer, is operating close to its capacity of 310 mt a year and Rio Tinto, the second-biggest, plans to expand production to 330 mtpa by 2015.

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