Breakbulk bounces back

Throughput figures for breakbulk cargo (steel, non-ferrous metals, paper and timber, fruit, project cargo) in the first half of 2010 were 18% up on the same period of 2009, at 3.3 million tonnes. Although the crisis continues to leave its mark in Rotterdam too, the recovery is more marked here than elsewhere.

The increase is largely down to the transhipment of steel at Steinweg Maasvlakte, slabs from Germany to the United States, and Broekman Distriport with more imports of high-grade steel products from Sweden. The picture for non-ferrous metals, mainly aluminium, at the main terminals (Steinweg, Metaaltransport and Broekman Distriport) was varied but, on balance, remained consistent. More project cargo was transshipped thanks to the incoming freight barge hulls handled at the buoys (see: Much project cargo via buoys) and the handling at Broekman Distriport of wind turbines and components for a project at neighbouring Huntsman. The handling of paper and timber products proved and is proving to be reasonably resistant to the effects of the crisis. The conventional transshipment of fruit has been suffering for some time from the continuing process of containerisation and the problems at the Seabrex terminal, resulting in bankruptcy. The relaunch by Sea-Invest as Rotterdam Fruit Wharf offers prospects which should take real shape with the construction of a new ‘Cool Port’ on the south bank.

Modernisation and expansion
Investments in modernisation and expansion bore fruit in the first six months. Not only on the Maasvlakte, Steinweg, but also in the Waalhaven area at Rhenus Logistics.

In this area, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and businesses are also redeveloping the RDM-East site for the handling of project cargo and metals. Stevedore RHB is strengthening its position in project cargo by deploying the strongest – 208 tonne – mobile port crane (more at in Europe.