THE Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) has handled about 25 000 tons of bulk salt destined for the United States of America.
The operational method that was used to load the salt into the vessel makes it the first-of-its-kind for the Port of Walvis Bay.
Normally, bulk salt is loaded into the vessel’s hatch with a conveyer belt.
With this shipment, salt was loaded on-site into skips and transported by trucks to be discharged into the vessel’s hatch.
This operation took three and half days to load into the bulk carrier, Loveland Island. The vessel departed on 5 August and was estimated to arrive at its destination within 21 days.
Pine Van Wyk, Managing Director of the supplier company Gecko Namibia Pty Ltd, said that the company chose the skip method for loading the salt, as it proved to be cost-effective.
More salt shipments are scheduled during the year and are destined for countries such as Canada, Brazil, Europe, United States and other African regions.
Exported commodities for the 2016/17 financial year that has shown a significant increase are bagged salt, by 100 percent, and bulk salt, by 10 percent, respectively. Industries linked to Namibian salt will show positive growth indicators, in terms of revenue and job opportunities for ordinary Namibians, in comparison to other industries that have shown a noteworthy decrease in throughput capacity.
Meanwhile, the Port of Walvis Bay has also achieved another milestone, as it can now handle volatile chemical substances in large volumes. A consignment of 1 000 tons of ammonium nitrate, destined for Swakop Uranium’s Husab Mine about 90km away from the harbour, was recently offloaded at the port.
Ammonium nitrate is used by the mining industry to manufacture explosives. Namport has never before handled a cargo of this nature.
“Although ammonium nitrate in itself is not an explosive, it is regulated by the Namibian Explosives Regulations and therefore must be treated as an explosive” Namport said.
The process to be cleared for handling volatile substances in bulk began more than a year ago, when shipping agents approached Namport in an effort to establish the requirements for importing ammonium nitrate.
Namport undertook an extensive research project, even visiting other ports where similar cargo is regularly handled in bulk.
After the operational modalities were defined, the Explosives Unit at the Namibian police was engaged to draft a dedicated procedural guideline for handling potentially combustible material. From this followed official authorisation by the unit to Namport for handling dangerous chemicals.
All operators at the cargo terminals, as well as security and emergency personnel were properly inducted, said Namport.
When the carrier vessel, Autumn Wind, arrived in Walvis Bay at the end of July, everything was in place for Namport personnel to handle this first-ever cargo with confidence. The ammonium nitrate was packed in one-ton bags, similar to the way sugar is transported in bulk. These were hoisted in batches by the cranes on the wharf and loaded onto trucks parked alongside the ship. The entire operation was completed in four days.
Namport Acting Executive: Commercial, Elias Mwenyo, said, “The Namibian Ports Authority values the business of its clients. We go beyond the call of duty to satisfy specific requirements.”
-Walvis Bay Corridor Group
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