Growth in West Africa means private port investment opportunities



Marcel Veilleux, Senior Associate, TEC Inc., Annapolis, MD, USA


Continued world demand for raw commodities such as iron ore is fueling new dry bulk export projects in West Africa while strong economic growth in West African countries has created the demand for regional container transshipment terminals.

West African iron ore export leads to new multi-commodity bulk port in Senegal

The increased demand for steel, driven primarily by growth in China and India, has made the development of remote inland iron ore deposits in Senegal feasible. After promoting the project for 30 years, Miferso, an agency of the Ministry of Mines and Industry for the government of Senegal, recently celebrated an agreement to move forward with development. On July 18 2007 the Government of Senegal and ArcelorMittal agreed to proceed on a new iron ore mine in the Falamé region of southeastern Senegal.

The project includes a 750 km railway connecting the mine to a new iron ore export terminal that will be located on a ‘greenfield’ site in Bargny, approximately 25 km southeast of the nation’s capital Dakar. With a projected development cost of US$2.2 billion, this will be the largest private investment project in Senegal’s history. This project, together with ArcelorMittal’s planned US$900 million investment in Liberia’s iron ore mines, railway and port is furthering the company’s strategy of creating a mining hub in West Africa.The planned 25MTY iron ore export terminal in Bargny, Senegal will consist of a loop track, twin tandem rotary dumpers, traveling stackers, traveling reclaimers, and a traveling ship loader located some 4 km offshore to load 250,000 DWT iron ore carriers.

This project is already creating synergies for a new multicommodity bulk port to be developed adjacent to the iron ore terminal. Economic growth and demand for electricity has led to the concession of two privately-funded coal fired power plants. Additionally, expansion projects by the country’s two private cement companies mean that Senegal will soon move from importing clinker to exporting clinker. TEC Inc is developing plans for the proposed multicommodity bulk port that will be located adjacent to the new iron ore terminal. In the near term, these facilities will handle fertiliser, sulfur, coal, clinker, petroleum products, and other miscellaneous commodities.

The plans include provisions for handling petroleum products from a proposed new refinery as well as the possibility of commodities from new phosphate mines and alumina plants currently being studied for the hinterland. The storage facility must accommodate railcar loading and unloading, truck loading and unloading, and ship loading and unloading.  Covered storage is planned for all commodities except coal. The iron ore berth will require 21 m water depths. A combination of dredging and a ± 4 km long trestle to support the conveying equipment and roadway will be used to attain the required water depths.  The trestle is therefore an important
and costly component of the new port infrastructure. The cost of this long trestle will be significant. However ArcelorMittal’s planned export of 25 MTY of iron ore per year justifies the cost.

This is not the case for the other multi-commodity stakeholders that handle commodities at much lower throughput levels. Miferso has had the foresight to incorporate use of the trestle by these other stakeholders. The iron ore terminal, coal fired power plants, and cement plant expansion projects are all scheduled to go online in   2011 so the trestle can be shared effectively by the multiple stakeholders and reduce the overall capital investment for each stakeholder. Dubai Port World was recently awarded a 25 year concession at the Port of Dakar that includes the development of a new container terminal at the port. The increased demand for container handling facilities at the Port of Dakar is putting pressure on the capacity of the port to continue accommodating its existing dry bulk operators, not to mention new dry bulk facilities.

Fertiliser, sulfur and other chemicals now handled at the Port of Dakar will move to the new multicommodity bulk port at Bargny. Diverting trucks that now carry these chemicals to the new port in Bargny will help to reduce traffic congestion in Dakar and lead to the reduction of pollution in the heavily populated urban area that these trucks must now travel through.

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