03 May 2013

More attention to non-container business along the Western Seaboard

Aggregates, iron ore and ship breaking are among the new proposals

Fracking pops up, followed swiftly by iron ore, aggregates and, to some astonishment, ship breaking. Perhaps the Western Seaboard is after all thinking seriously about moving away from containers, coupled with a hint of purse snatching.

Long Beach is the center of action in the iron ore and aggregates projects. SA Recycling is dancing a jig over increasing demand for iron ore from Asia. “After a year of planning with the Port, SA Recycling loaded and sent its first 50,000-ton shipment of the raw material in late March. If market demand remains strong, SA Recycling could export more than 1 million tons this year,” says the port in a news article.

A sharp rise in the world price is behind the buoyant exports and SA has increased its work force and is getting ready to send more material out, with a potential of 1 million metric tons a year.

Aggregates (bricks, sand and rubble to many of us) are getting more attention in the form of an environmental report on the proposed Eagle Rock facility at Berth 44 on Pier D. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of this year and working at full capacity by 2020. Maximum throughput is 2.75 million tons a year from 35 Panamax vessels and involves 385 truck round-trips a day.

Normally, a snort of derision would greet any port project involving dust and noise that aims to be ready within a year. But the Theory of EIRs comes in –when a report is only 120 pages long, there is a possibility that events will move swiftly. Middle Harbor, TraPac and all the rest are subject to at least 1,000 pages each. The shorter the EIR, the more likely there will be success within the project time frame.

Ship breaking is proposed for the port of Astoria in Washington.   Details so far are sketchy, but a company named as Blue Ocean Environmental in local news reports has approached the port to set up a facility at Tongue Point. Similar projects have been proposed at Astoria before, but have foundered.

The purse snatching? Long Beach says of the iron ore boom, “The commodity has moved through smaller ports in Northern California traditionally, but Long Beach, with its deepwater port, full-service infrastructure and unmatched supply chain network, is ideally positioned to be the West Coast’s most competitive gateway to the market for iron ore. “

Those small ports had better watch out because one of the California Big Two is ready to snatch away their business.

Source: maritime professional. 29 April 2013

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