Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 3, 2008
Author: P&S






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THIS WEEK’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Plans to increase Saldanha ore export capacity announced

  • MSC adds capacity to container fleet

  • Cruise passengers tossed about like rag dolls

  • First South Africa maize exports of season to Kenya

  • Phoenicia goes into the water

  • Cameroon plans expansion of Limbe and Kribi ports

  • More oil workers taken hostage in Nigeria

  • Fishermen turn to human trafficking as fish profits drop

  • HMS Endurance in Simon’s Town

  • Uganda: Lake Victoria degradation threatening livelihoods

  • Head of Mauritius Ports Authority denies bribe allegations

  • Smit Marine appointed to salvage grounded trawlers Weskus I and Seawin

  • Grindrod acquires remaining 50 percent of Oreport

  • Blue chip company enters shipping world as Cape companies expand empowerment footprint

  • Alternative shipping arrangements post 2012 air services to be investigated

  • Egyptian ferry owners acquitted

  • Pic of the day – HIGH CENTURY




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    Plans to increase Saldanha ore export capacity announced



    Signing an agreement to expand the Sishen-Saldana Iron Ore Export Channel, from left, Timo Smit, Head, Commercial, Kumba; Chris Griffith, Chief Executive Officer, Kumba; Louis van Niekerk, Chief Operating Officer, Transnet; Maria Ramos, Group Chief Executive, Transnet; and Leon Broom, General Manager, Iron Ore, Transnet – Picture Kumba Iron Ore

    In a joint statement Transnet and Kumba Iron Ore have announced a R8.5 billion project that will increase iron ore exports through the port of Saldanha from 47 million tonnes to 60mt a year.

    Of the additional 13mt capacity Kumba has been allocated 9mt a year with the balance going to Assmang.

    Kumba says its additional capacity will come from the new mine at Sishen South near Posmasburg.

    The Iron Ore Export Channel expansion represents a capital investment of more than R4 billion by Transnet. This includes the purchase of additional rolling stock, upgrading of electricity infrastructure, the construction of loops and a 36-km rail link to service the new Sishen South mine by 2012.

    The mine is expected to provide permanent employment for 750 people, with another 2,000 jobs created during the construction phase. The new mine will have an expected life span of 20 years.

    According to Kumba chief executive Chris Griffith Eskom has guaranteed the provision of electricity to the mine.

    Production is due to begin in the first half of 2012 with full capacity being reached a year later.



    MSC adds capacity to container fleet

    With the acquisition of ten additional ships this year Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will add a further 52,000 TEU to the exiting fleet capacity of 1.3 million TEU, reports AXS Alphaliner.

    This compares with world leader Maersk Line which has a capacity of 2.03 million TEU.

    Ironically, a large part of the additional MSC capacity comes by way of Maersk which has provided eight ships to the MSC fleet. The first three have already joined MSC and been renamed – they are the 4,000-TEU MSC Malacca (former Maersk Malacca), the 4,200-TEU MSC Dresden (formerly the Maersk Dresden), and the 4,200-TEU MSC Salerno (formerly the Maersk Delano).

    Additional ships joining MSC during August include the 4,800-TEU Maersk Moncton and Maersk Marathon and four 4,200-TEU ships re-leased by MSC earlier as the MSC Dartford, the MSC Malaysia, the MSC Sweden and the MSC Dalton.

    In addition MSC takes the lease of two 5,551-TEU ships from CSCL, the CSCL Shanghai and CSCL Hong Kong, which will be delivered in August and September as MSC Shenzhen and MSC Hong Kong. MSC also has the 5,551-TEU Fortune which was rebuilt in China after the explosion and fire of 2006.

    Finally, MSC has taken on charter the 3,937-TEU MSC Toledo, which is owned by Tonnevolds, The ship moves to MSC at the end of her Maersk charter and has been renamed MSC Toledo.



    Cruise passengers tossed about like rag dolls


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    the 47,262-gt cruise ship Pacific Sun – P&O Cruises picture

    Passengers on board the 47,262-gt P&O Cruises Pacific Sun were tossed about like rag dolls, according to passenger accounts after the ship encountered a storm north of New Zealand last week.

    The ship which can carry almost 1500 passengers was returning to Auckland ‘from Vanuatu at the end of a Pacific cruise when the storm struck, causing the ship to roll 20 degrees and resulting in unsecured items including furniture, crockery, glassware (and passengers) to be thrown about.

    The vessel’s two doctors and nursing staff had their hands full treating passenger injuries which included at least one broken arm and a fractured pelvis. News media in Auckland were later told that the amount of injuries had been exaggerated and that some of the New Zealand passengers had acted like ‘drama queens.



    First South Africa maize exports of season to Kenya

    The first batch of an order for 3 million bags of South African maize has begun to arrive in Kenya.

    The maize, ordered by the Kenyan government in the face of looming food shortages in the East African country is a result of disruptions in the flow of locally grown food following the post-election strife earlier this year and is the first to be imported by Kenya since 2005.

    A second consignment is expected to arrive in Kenya from neighbouring Tanzania shortly.

    A spokesman for the Kenya government said there was no need for concern as the government has made adequate provision to bring in sufficient supplies to meet local demand. He said the government has also taken steps to increase Kenya’s strategic grain reserve from four million bags to eight million bags over the next two years.

    The UN World Food Programme (WFP) recently announced it was to import grain into East Africa from South Africa where there is a surplus and where the prices remained the most competitive.



    Phoenicia goes into the water



    17 July 2008, the mast is stepped on the Phoenicia


    The replica Phoenician sailing ship PHOENICIA entered the water for the first time on 17 July at the Syrian port of Arwad.

    Witnesses to the event were local shipwrights who helped built the vessel, based on drawings of a 2,600 year old sailing ship similar to that used to make the first known circumnavigation of Africa.

    Leader of the expedition, which will undertake a mammoth voyage around the coast of Africa, Philip Beale called the event a “fantastic milestone for the project. Phoenicia looks beautiful in the water. The ship is a credit to the work of Khalid Hammound and the shipbuilding team at Arwad.”

    Syria’s First Lady Asma Akhras al-Assad recently visited the site where the ship was being built and discussed the expedition with the team and the shipbuilders. Her visit received international media coverage, further assisting the expedition in its efforts of making the planned circumnavigation better known.

    The programme ahead for the Phoenicia is as follows:

    17 July 2008 – ship launched into the water
    31 July 2008 – sea trials begin
    10 August 2008 – expedition launch ceremony
    11 August 2008 – expedition sets off
    15 August 2008 – planned arrival in Egypt
    17 August 2008 – planned departure from Port Said, Egypt – destination round Africa!



    Cameroon plans expansion of Limbe and Kribi ports

    The Cameroon port of Limbe is to undergo expansion, according to several reports.

    The intention is to increase the capacity for handling ships up to 60,000-DWT, mainly to enable the import of equipment and construction material for a new cement terminal at the harbour.

    Several plans have been floated in recent years to improve Cameroon’s port facilities with most of them so far unrealised, leaving the port of Douala capable of handling relatively small vessels only. In the recent past Douala has handled 95 percent of Cameroon’s seaborne traffic amounting to 4.4 million tonnes by 1985 but since then this volume has decreased.

    Earlier this year Cameroon revealed plans of building a deepwater port at Kribi and in May said that investors from Canada, Europe and China had expressed their interest in financing the project. The deepwater port would be capable of handling ore exports of bauxite, iron ore, cobalt and nickel in addition to providing a platform for a new container terminal to handle local and transhipment cargo for the West African region.



    More oil workers taken hostage in NIgeria

    Another eight oil workers have been taken hostage by Nigerian militants operating off the coast of Bonny.

    According to a Nigerian military spokesman, Lt-Col Sagir Nusa, armed men swarmed aboard a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker near the mouth of the Bonny River.

    The name of the vessel and the nationality of the eight men taken hostage has not been revealed.

    The latest attack came despite the bolstering of Nigeria’s armed forces in the Delta region with additional troops.



    Fishermen turn to human trafficking as fish profits drop

    As the profits to be made from fishing diminish with rising fuel costs and poor management of the sector, fishermen are increasingly turning to drug and people trafficking to boost their meager incomes, fishermen in Bissau and the Bijagos islands told IRIN (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks).

    “Fishermen get involved [in drug trafficking] because they can earn more money from illegal activities,” said Mody Ndiaye, special adviser at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Guinea Bissau.


    According to Ndiaye, large boats head from Latin America to the Bijagos islands, an archipelago of 90 islands 60 km off the coast from the capital, where they divide up their large hauls into many smaller fishing boats which proceed along the coast to unload their cargo in the Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Conakry.

    Guinea Bissau has increasingly become a transit hub for organised criminal networks trafficking drugs from Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil through West Africa to Europe.

    The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates several hundred kg of cocaine go through the country each week, while according to 2004 figures from the International Office of Migration, one million West and Central Africans head clandestinely to Europe every year.

    >B>‘Ideal’ trafficking environment

    Bijagos archipelago is an ideal ground for disembarking large quantities of cocaine according to Ndiaye. “For traffickers the rule is to make a maximum profit with a minimum risk. This area is difficult for police to control because of its geographical configuration which make it a place from which drugs can be transported relatively safely.”

    “Lots of my friends have left fishing to get involved in illegal activities such as transporting people or drugs," said Abdullah Dieng, a fisherman in the capital, Bissau.

    Other factors favouring illegal trafficking are the lack of judicial police units across Guinea Bissau, the low numbers of police patrolling the borders, and widespread corruption which means much of the trade is overlooked by the authorities, according to Ndiaye and the International Crisis Group. An ongoing armed rebellion in southern Senegal also fuels the trade.

    While fishermen ‘regularly’ run at a loss when fishing he said they can earn up to USD720 for each person trafficked northwards up the coast to Senegal. “If you have a big boat you can take up to 60 people at a time and you're guaranteed a profit,” Dieng said.

    Transporting drugs can be even more profitable, said a fisherman who asked not to be named. “We know the sea very well so it's obvious they'll look to us to help them,” the fisherman said. “I know there are risks but I think it's worth it to take them.”

    Fishing no longer pays

    While fishermen stand to earn several thousand or more dollars to transport people and drugs, the income from fishing is inconsistent. Before setting out to sea fishermen must fork out up to USD336 for the two tones of ice needed for a short trip, USD86 for the required 60 litres of fuel which must be procured on the black market, as well as boat hire charges. If their catch is not good or much of it goes unsold as is “often the case,” they may even run at a loss, “which happens more and more regularly,” said Dieng.

    Fishermen tend to be contracted out to a manager who rents their boat, feeds and houses them, and pays them once a month. “We live a hand to mouth existence - I live on scraps of change for cigarettes and drinks,” said Ndiaye.

    One problem is no one is buying their fish. The lack of decent roads into the interior of the country combined with prohibitive fuel prices makes it too difficult for fish-sellers to transport fish any further than Bissau, creating a saturated market. Fishermen cannot increase the price of fish any further because people simply cannot afford to buy it at inflated prices.

    “Fishermen here have no financial power - they can't further increase the price of fish because no one will buy it,” director general of the ministry of fisheries and maritime economy Cirillo Vieira told IRIN.

    Temptation

    For those who traffic, it's a different story. “If you want fast money and are willing to take the risk, that's the only way to get it,” said Dieng.

    The UNODC is starting to work with the government to help it build up its security and justice system so that the authorities have a better chance of catching and punishing these traffickers. Some security forces patrol the seas for cargo, but they are few and far between and according to a fisherman on the island of Bubaque in the Bijagos, trafficking around the islands is on the increase.

    Vieira is taking a different tack. He hopes to tempt fishermen back to fishing by making the industry more profitable. He has received USD1 million over two years from the European Union to improve management of the industry and market conditions. But even he knows his options are limited. The fishing ministry receives just 5 percent of the government's paltry annual budget, despite fishing bringing in 40 percent of the country's annual revenues, and most of this money can only cover staff salaries.

    “Fishermen face so many problems nowadays so there's a lot we need to do to give them more incentives,” he said.

    For fisherman Dieng the temptation to traffic is always there. “Me, I am here to fish... if I have bad months the temptation is there, but I try to resist it,” he said.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)



    HMS Endurance in Simon’s Town


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

    Picture by David Erickson


    The Royal Navy Antarctic Ice Patrol vessel HMS Endurance (A171) arrived in Simon’s Town naval harbour on 7 June where she has since been undergoing a routine refit and replenishment.

    The ship is expected to depart the South African Navy dockyard on Friday, 8 August to head southwards for colder climes once more.

    Other ships that can be seen in this photograph are the 1944 vintage museum ship CABLE RESTORER and to her left the Environmental Protection vessel LILIAN NGOYI, along with assorted smaller vessels and craft of the False Bay Yacht Cub Marina.



    Uganda: Lake Victoria degradation threatening livelihoods

    Over-fishing is depleting fish reserves in the lake

    Kampala, 1 August 2008 (IRIN) - A few years ago, Charles Kyagaba used to sell up to 300kg of fresh fish at the Gaba landing site near the Ugandan capital of Kampala each day, but now the situation is markedly different.

    “These days, you sometimes go out there and come back empty-handed,” he said. “My income has declined by over 70 percent and the impact on my family’s livelihood is serious. I am struggling to make ends meet, trying to establish other businesses to balance the situation.”

    Generally, Kyagaba said, there was now less fish in the lake. “I have had to change my children's schools to ones that I can afford,” he told IRIN. “The fishing business is no longer sustainable and many of my friends feel frustrated. I am thinking about selling some of my assets to diversify my options; I am beginning to fail to provide some essential needs for my family.”

    Kyagaba is not alone. According to environmentalists, over-fishing, pollution and other human activities along Lake Victoria as well as climate change are threatening to destroy Africa's largest freshwater lake resource.

    Lake Victoria is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, covering nearly 68,800 sq km. It is shared by Kenya (6 percent by area), Uganda (43 percent) and Tanzania (51 percent).

    Its basin, according to specialists, has the fastest-growing population in East Africa - more than 30 million people. Much of this population derives its livelihood directly or indirectly from the lake.

    Pollution

    Frank Mulamuzi, an environmental advocate and executive director of the Ugandan NGO, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), said the lake was mainly threatened by pollution. Across the three East African nations, the lake had become a reservoir for excessive untreated effluents, including sewage, industrial waste and other chemicals.

    “Pollution is a serious problem,” he said. “This has been brought about by carelessness of both the communities and governments along the lake. We don't know how long it will go on because we have talked to everybody who could listen, but the authorities are more interested in development.”

    Uganda, Mulamuzi added, had deficient sewage and industrial wastewater plants, small-scale workshops that were polluting the lake with waste oil from parking lots and car-repair garages. The sewers in Kampala drain into the lake “but information indicates that only 10 percent of the sewage gets treated.”

    Fred Mukisa, Uganda's minister in charge of fisheries, told IRIN that apart from pollution, over-fishing was depleting the fish reserves, with the apparent decline in fish harvests forcing some processors to close shop. Those remaining were operating at less than 50 percent capacity, due to reduced stocks.

    “The problem is huge,” the minister said. “We have many players licensed to go fishing by local governments. To mitigate this, we are planning to again centralise licensing because local governments are more interested in the revenue not conservation.”
    Meanwhile, earnings from fish exports keep declining. “We were earning over USD150 million from fish exports in the past years but I don't think that we shall even earn USD90 million this year,” Mukisa added.

    Jackson Wadanya, acting head of the fisheries department, blamed a policy he described as a ‘free-for-all’ in the fishing sector. Up to 55,000 fishermen with an estimated 1,000 fishing boats were operating on the Ugandan side of the lake without restrictions on new entrants.

    “Anybody attracted by the huge demand available on the market can get his boat and line up his gear to start fishing,” he said. “This has created a lot of pressure on the lake and the fishing gear used is not the best to allow the resource to renew.”

    The department, he added, could not determine how soon the situation could be reversed, but a community management programme has been drawn up, geared towards educating the population about proper fishing methods. “We also plan to promote the use of fishing gear that [allows] the fish to grow as mostly young fish are being caught currently,” he said.

    On pollution, Wadanya said the landscape around the lake was being destroyed, as agro-chemicals were entering the lake. "The flower factories are all located along the lake in all three countries and they use a lot of chemicals that end up in the lake," he said.

    Water levels

    A recent report by the UN Environment Programme listed Lake Victoria as among African water bodies whose water level is falling due to environmental degradation and climatic changes.

    It noted that the loss of trees and wetlands, which form the Lake Victoria water catchment, was partly to blame for the receding shoreline. “Over 75 percent of the wetlands have been significantly affected by human activities and 13 percent are severely degraded,” UNEP noted. Water levels, it added, had started dropping considerably in 2002.

    Other experts blame Uganda’s two power dams at the Owen Falls for at least 55 percent of the decline in water levels, arguing that they routinely release twice the permitted water volume. As a result, the water level reached an 80-year low in 2006.

    Experts also blame rapid population growth, estimated at 7 percent within 100km of the Lake Victoria catchment area, saying this reflected a growing dependence and pressure on the lake's resources.

    “Population growth around the continent's largest lake is significantly higher than the rest of Africa,” the UNEP report stated. “If they are not managed properly, the continent’s lakes face loss of sustainability for future generations.”

    The lake surface also has an algae mass, which looks like green paint. Specialists say this is because of increased pollution from human and industrial waste. The main reason for the spread of algae on the surface is the presence of increased nutrients, such as phosphates and nitrogen, substances that algae feed on.

    Chemiphar, a Belgian laboratory with a branch in Kampala, tested the algae on the lake water and said it was toxic. “From the preliminary results, cyanobacteria like Anabaena were found in the water samples. These can be very toxic for plants and animals, including humans, because of the toxin microcystin,” it said.

    “They can accumulate in the fish tissues, liver, intestines and gallbladder, which means that secondary contamination by eating toxic fish from an infected pond or lake is possible.”

    Fish stock

    According to the regional Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), the annual fishery yield from the lake is estimated at about 800,000-1,000,000 tonnes, valued at US0-400 million.

    However, while the total catch from the lake has been increasing over the years due to more intense fishing, changes in the contribution of different species have been observed. The Nile perch stock, according to LVFO, was estimated at 40 percent of the unexploited level but ‘Dagaa’ is considered underexploited. However, the Nile Tilapia, which is one of the more popular fish types, appears to be fully exploited.

    As a result, it is proposed to prohibit fishing within 200m of the lake shore to create a buffer within which to monitor the tilapia.


    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)



    Head of Mauritius Ports Authority denies bribe allegations

    Mauritius Ports Authority President Siddick Chady has denied having received USD25,000 from the Dutch dredging firm Boskalis which was awarded a contract to dredge Port Louis harbour in 2006.

    Chady said he was prepared to allow access to his bank accounts to show he hadn’t received the money. "You will see that I never received any money from anybody from abroad," he said last week.

    According to Mauritius media reports Boskalis has also denied having made a payment to the port president.



    Smit Marine appointed to salvage grounded trawlers Weskus I and Seawin


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    SEAWIN ashore near Melkbosstrand at the weekend. Picture by Hermann Hanekom, courtesy L Rip Riphagen


    SMIT Marine South Africa (Pty) Ltd has been appointed by Indo-Atlantic Seafoods Limited to salvage the fishing vessels ‘Weskus I’ and ‘Seawin Sapphire’ which ran aground last Thursday (31 July 2008) in the vicinity of Derde Steen, south of Melkbosstrand.

    At first light on Friday, the vessels were inspected and found to be intact and posing minimal threat to the environment. However, said SMIT in a statement, the proactive protection of the environment is a priority and to this end, the first phase of the salvage operation will entail the removal of approximately 6 tonnes of gas oil from the ‘Weskus1’ and 11 tonnes of gas oil from the ‘Seawin Sapphire’.

    This fuel is to be pumped ashore into tanktainers and preparations for this operation began immediately on Friday.

    At the same time as the fuel is being removed, the cargo onboard the ‘Seawin Sapphire’ – approximately 10 tonnes of fish – was also to be removed. The fish is on ice and in secure storage facilities aboard the ‘Seawin Sapphire’. The ‘Weskus I’ was not carrying any cargo when she ran aground.

    The salvage team intends refloating both vessels in the second phase of the salvage operation.

    In its statement Smit reminded the members of the public to kindly limit their sightseeing activities to areas well clear of demarcated operations for their own safety. “The dunes adjacent to the beach are environmentally sensitive – members of the public are asked to be cognisant of this and avoid these areas.”


    Rescue

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was activated shortly after 14h00 on Thursday following reports that a trawler was in the process of running aground near Melkbosstrand and that her six crew members were preparing to abandon ship in 5 to 6 metre swells and winds of up to 30 knots, said the NSRI in a statement.

    “The incident followed an initial report to Maritime Rescue Authorities just after 10h00 this morning when Weskus 1 reported to have rope fouled around her propeller and the 23 metre Fishing Trawler Seawin, which happened to be in the area at the time, attempted to assist her.

    “While Seawin was attempting to assist Weskus 1 she reported to Maritime Authorities to have hit a reef and sustained damage to her propeller but neither vessel was prepared to declare an emergency at the time until just after 14h00 when Weskus 1’s skipper declared that his crew could no longer prevent his vessel from running aground and the National Ports Authority activated the NSRI.

    “We launched our rescue craft Spirit of Rotary Blouberg, NSRI Table Bay launched their rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom and NSRI Bakoven were placed on alert.

    “The Police Dive Unit and their Police Rigid Inflatable Boat, the SA Police Service, Metro Ambulance and Rescue Service, ER-24 Ambulance Services, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, Cape Town Disaster Management and the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter responded.

    “On our arrival on-scene Weskus 1 was found running aground (time aground 15h40) on the beach and all her 6 crew jumped from the vessel and were assisted safely ashore by NSRI volunteers and local Police. No one was injured except for some suffering mild hypothermia.

    “It should be noted that under the extreme circumstances the local Police who had responded to the scene in their patrol vehicles entered the surf in full uniform to help victims ashore assisting to prevent injury to the victims.

    “Seawin, with 13 crew on-board, was at this stage observed approximately 700 metres off-shore, and her skipper reported his vessel to be in difficulties with her damaged propeller, which had been damaged earlier after hitting a reef while trying to assist Weskus 1, and in the big surf she too drifted towards shore and was at risk of running aground.

    “Attempts were made to get the crew off Seawin by NSRI rescue boats and by the Metro Red cross AMS helicopter but conditions were too rough and just after 17h10 she too ran aground and all her 13 crew jumped from the vessel and were assisted ashore by NSRI volunteers, Police Divers and Metro Rescue Divers.

    “All crew from both Trawlers are safe and not injured.”


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    WESKUS I, which went aground near Melkbosstrand last Thursday. Picture by Hermann Hanekom, courtesy L Rip Riphagen



    Grindrod acquires remaining 50 percent of Oreport


    Grindrod Limited, the JSE listed shipping and logistics group, announced on Friday the acquisition of the remaining 50 percent in Oreport.

    The Grindrod Trading division currently trades in agricultural commodities through Atlas Trading & Shipping, in marine fuel & lubricants through Cockett Marine Oil and has traded in industrial raw products since it first acquired a 50 percent share in Oreport in June 2005. This announcement follows the acquisition of the remaining share in Cockett Marine Oil earlier this year. Brendan McIlmurray, CEO of Grindrod’s Trading division said that all the businesses within this division were now 100 percent owned subsidiaries of Grindrod Limited. He went on to say that there was great growth potential within this division.

    Oreport, an international marketing organisation specialising in the worldwide procurement, physical movement and distribution of a range of industrial raw materials, was first established in 1985.

    Also reported in the French press this week was that Oreport, Eramet of France and Otjozondu Holdings would in partnership study the feasibility of the development of manganese mining operation on the Otjozondu deposit in Namibia within the next 18 months.

    Eramet has purchased an option from Oreport and their partners to buy a majority stake in the project at a future date and to then implement the drafted business plan. Oreport, currently a 24,5 percent shareholder in Otjozondu Mine and Otjozondu Holdings will remain strong local partners in this project.

    Eramet, metal producers and product manufacturers, are listed on the Paris stock exchange.

    Philippe Vecten, Eramet’s delegate CEO and head of Eramet’s Manganese division stated: “this project is a great opportunity for Eramet to develop its manganese business through a large scale manganese mine in Namibia. The Otjozondu Project could eventually be a major asset for Eramet and will remain a top priority for us in the next 18 months.”

    Dr. Hans Wilhelm Rûnz, Chairman of Otjozondu Mining (Pty) Ltd and Otjozondu Holdings (Pty) Ltd stated: “this project expands the existing operations of Otjozondu Mining and has the potential to bring Namibia on the list of the few large international manganese producing countries and will contribute significantly to the Namibian economy”.

    Mr Ian Falcon, Managing Director of Oreport, reinforced this view and said that Oreport is excited to be involved in developing this resource and looks forward to the opportunity to provide the logistical and other services to Otjozondu Mining beyond what was initially contemplated

    The Otjozondu deposit is a rich manganese ore deposit located in the centre of Namibia, approximately 150 km North-East from Windhoek. Mining in this location took place intermittently since the 1930’s and eventually stopped in the late 1980’s. Several tens of millions of tons of ore resources are expected to be identified by the feasibility study.

    The purchase amount for the balance of the shares in Oreport is not disclosed neither is the purchase amount for the option to buy a stake in the Otjozondu mining project disclosed. – source Grindrod



    Blue chip company enters shipping world as Cape companies expand empowerment footprint

    African Renaissance Holdings (ARH), one of South Africa’s leading empowerment investment groups, has acquired a significant stake in two leading Cape Town maritime companies. ARH, which was incorporated in 1993, has a diversified portfolio of interests in mining, aviation, information technology, retailing, and leisure.

    According to a joint announcement in Cape Town by African Renaissance Holdings and the two sister companies, Marine Bulk Carriers and Marine Crew Services, ARH has acquired a 20 percent stake in both companies.

    Marine Bulk Carriers (MBC) is a leading South African based iron ore and coal shipping company and Marine Crew Services (MCS) one of the leading crewing and training companies in the local maritime field. Both are black empowerment companies founded five years ago to increase South African interest in the international bulk shipping business and to train and enhance jobs for South Africans in the maritime world.

    “The investment by ARH in MBC and MCS will strengthen the capital base of both companies,” says MBC and MCS director Jan Rabie. “It will offer MCS the opportunity to expand its seafarer job creation programs, while in the dry bulk operation of MBC it will strengthen our relationship with the mining sector over a wide front. ”

    Mr Rabie says revenue associated with MCS and MBC operations is close to R500 million. “Only a fraction of the shipments of South African iron ore and coal is handled by South African shipping companies. With the support of ARH and our co investors, MBC will be able to expand its involvement in the SA iron ore and coal shipments of close to a 100 million tons per year.

    African Renaissance Holdings’ Chief Executive Jurgen Kogl, who will become a director of both MBC and MCS, says his company, under the leadership of the late Dr Vincent Msibi as Chairman, has for some time been looking at opportunities to invest in shipping.

    “The success of MBC which has become a leading South African based dry bulk operator in just five years, and MCS, who has carved an important place for itself in the Southern African seafarer training and crew placing world, has convinced us that we will be partners with similar objectives.”

    “We believe that the South African commodity exporters underestimate the contribution that sea freight can make to expand the country’s shipping industry, rather than most of the funds flowing out of the country. It can also play an important role in the BEE scorecard of companies through the 35 percent BEE share in MBC”, says Mr Kogl.

    The other major shareholders in MBC and MCS are Sanko Shipping Co of Japan, the chairman Mr Lester Peteni, and the well-known South African shipping personalities, Robert Knutzen and Jan Rabie.



    Alternative shipping arrangements post 2012 air services to be investigated

    The consultancy firm WSP has been engaged to review future freight and passenger options available for the twin South Atlantic islands of St Helena and Ascension once new air services are able to commence from 2012.

    At that time it is expected that the mail ship RMS St Helena will be taken out of service.

    WSP will be liasing with the St Helena Government, the Ascension island Government, St Helena Line, Andrew Weir Shipping which operates the RMS St Helena, Namibia and the trading company Solomon & Company, as well as other key traders and interested parties on the islands including the Chamber of Commerce.



    Egyptian ferry owners acquitted

    Five defendants on trial in an Egyptian court over the sinking of the Red Sea ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 in 2006 have been found not guilty and discharged.

    A sixth defendant, the master of another ferry, the Saint Catherine was sentenced to six months for failing to come to the rescue of the Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 after it caught fire and began to sink.

    More than a thousand passengers died in the ferry, making this Egypt’s worst ever maritime disaster.

    The news of the acquittal of the ferry owners and directors was met with anger from relatives of the deceased and the public prosecutor said he intended appealing the ruling and would ask for a retrial.

    International Transport Federation secretary Jon Whitlow called the ruling ‘inexplicable’.

    “The decision to let the owners and company executive decision makers off without having to take responsibility for the consequences sets a dangerous precedent," he said.



    Pic of the day – HIGH CENTURY

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    The 28,799-gt products tanker HIGH CENTURY off Cape Town harbour with tugs Palmiet (leading) and Merlot (stern) in attendance. Picture Aad Noorland






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