The transhipment solution: Overcoming constraints in port logistics in developing countries



Capt. Giordano Scotto d’Aniello, Head of Commercial Department, Coeclerici Logistics, Milan, It


In January this year Coeclerici Logistics successfully launched Bulk Zambesi, a 55,000 DWT transhipper vessel of last generation. The vessel, which is the first of two units, will start operations in Beira, Mozambique in July 2011. The second transhipper named Bulk Limpopo will be operative in the first half of 2012.


In December 2009 Coeclerici Logistics, the logistic division of Coeclerici Group, specializing in international offshore logistics for raw materials, acquired the biggest offshore coal transhipment project ever awarded, which foresees the handling of about 11 million metric tons of coal per year during a 20-year contract. The cargo involved is 80% coking coal and 20% steam coal. Coeclerici’s project was selected among offers made by leading offshore logistic operators that participated to the international tender for the Moatize coal project in Mozambique issued by Vale, the Brazilian company world leader in metal and mining production.

Mozambique mining

Mozambique is seen as one of the new and fast growing countries with the mining industry, and is expected to grow at a rate of 9.2% during 2010-2012. The major coal demand is expected to come from Asia, China, Europe and India. Mozambique is well positioned for exports to these countries and its coal is seen competitive with that originating from Australia, South Africa, Indonesia and Colombia.

Moatize coal project

The Moatize Coal Project involves the development of a concession area in Moatize, located in the Tete Province of Mozambique, approximately 600 kilometers from the Port of Beira. The overall investment expected to be of about US$1.2 billion, accounting for 12% of Mozambique’s GDP in 2008. Tete Province has an estimated 2.4 billion tons of coal reserves.

The coal that will be railed to the Port of Beira can not be loaded into big Panamax or Capesize vessels due to limitations in the Port and draft restrictions in the approaching channel. Therefore, offshore transshipment is the only solution that can be implemented to take advantage of economies of scale in the sea transportation part of the logistics chain. The project, which envisages the employment of two tailor-made transshipment units, will thus help to overcome these infrastructural limitations.

Both transshipment units, fully designed and built by Coeclerici Logistics, will be loaded at berth in Beira and will transport their coal cargo to a suitable deep-water anchorage off the coast, where there are no draught constraints and where the coal will be transferred into ocean-going vessels (OGV) up to 180,000 DWT by means of a sophisticated loading system installed onboard.

Bulk Zambesi and Bulk Limpopo are each duly equipped with heavy duty cranes, grabs, a belt conveyor system capable to transship at 4,000 tons/hour, and state-of-the-art gears allowing a throughput of around 12 million tons of coal per year. The two vessels will fly the Italian flag, will be classed with RINA, and will be in compliance with the latest international code resolutions for ships’ safety and security, protection of crew and of the environment.

Transhipper operation cycle

• Loading at berth
The coal mined in Tete Province will be railed up to Beira port using the Sena line, which was finished being upgraded a few months ago. Coeclerici transhippers will be loaded at berth no. 8 by means of shore facilities. The loading operation will be completed on the basis of available tide and each OGV’s schedule. The average tidal depth is about 11.3 meters (being spring tide plus 6.7 meters), which will permit the transhippers to load about 44,000 metric tons of coal…

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