The coal and iron ore industries are going through tough times, writes Sanjeev Mathur – General Manager Bedeschi East Dubai. At the same time, the shipping market is also experiencing its own difficulties. While some companies are reluctant to invest at this time, others see it as an opportunity to develop and to take the lead once the market improves. Rocktree has demonstrated just that by taking delivery a new transshipper Apollo. Before we go into the details of Apollo, let us first throw some light onto why transshippers are required in the first place.

Offshore transshipment essentially means transfer of dry bulk cargo like coal or iron ore from large vessels into smaller vessels or vice-versa. Vessel sizes have grown rapidly since the Second World War but port development has not been able to keep pace. Vessel sizes have increased because of economies of scale i.e. the larger the vessel, the lower the per-tonne transportation cost. Port development, unfortunately, has lagged behind, mainly because of a high gestation period and a high development cost. The only way to overcome this bottleneck is offshore transshipment. Many kinds of transshipment devices have been devised and deployed in various areas, mainly for the handling of coal and iron ore.

We will take the example of Indonesia which has witnessed phenomenal growth in the coal exports in the last decade. This has only been possible with an equally remarkable growth in facilities for loading coal, which has been able to keep pace with the increased demand. While Indonesia lacks the shore-based infrastructure to load large vessels at berth, it has been blessed with a large numbers of rivers which connect the hinterland to theseafront. ThebulkofcoalexportsfromIndonesiatakes place from the coal mine to the end users via rivers. After the coal is mined, it is then loaded onto barges that then transport it directly to the various loading facilities which are either shore based or offshore.

At the last count, more than 150 offshore loading facilities are presently operating in Indonesia. These floating facilities can broadly be classified into three different kinds: floating cranes — which are single or twin cranes mounted on pontoons; floating transfer units — cranes mounted on pontoons working with a combination of cargo handling systems comprising hoppers, conveyors and shiploaders; and floating terminals — large floating devices with floating buffer storage.

Bedeschi has implemented five of the best operating transshippers in Indonesia — Mara, Zeus, Princess Chloe,Vittoria and Bulk Celebes. While Mara is a Panamax vessel converted into a floating storage and transfer station fitted with four cranes and two shiploaders, the others are pontoons mounted with two cranes each and one shiploader each in combination with an array of hoppers, feeders and conveyor systems.

Another example is Goa in India, where more than 80mt (million tonnes) of iron ore were exported exclusively by offshore transshipment facilities before the ban on iron ore mining came into force. Here, too, the iron ore is mined in the hinterland and is brought to the sea by two rivers in barges, where it is loaded directly into OGV (oceangoing vessels) by the use of various transshipment devices. Three transshippers have been implemented by Bedeschi in Goa: the Shatixa, Royal Sesa and Chowpatlal.

With the commissioning of FTS Ore Fabrica and Ore Sossego the world has witnessed a totally new phenomenon. These transshippers are the largest in
the world and have revolutionized the way iron ore transportation takes place in the world. To take advantage of the economy of scale, Vale has ordered vessels in excess of 400,000 tonnes dead weight capacity, known as Valemax, to transport iron ore from Brazil to the Far East. Since these huge vessels cannot be accommodated in most of the ports, there was a need for a transshipment device, which could transfer the iron ore from the Valemax vessels into more manageable Capesize
vessels. For this, the Ore Fabrica and Ore Sossego have been implemented. ThenewesttransshipperisApollo,whichhasbeen delivered to Rocktree and which will commence coal transshipment operations in Indonesia. Apollo has a daily load rate of 40,000 tonnes from barges to ocean going vessels. It also has the latest technology for the blending of various grades of coal into a homogeneous blend and also automatic sampling of coal. The hoppers, feeders belts, conveyors and the shiploader are supplied by Bedeschi. The cranes have been supplied by Liebherr and the engineering has been carried out by Logmarin.

In addition to offshore transshipment projects Bedeschi has developed various onshore projects too.


Bedeschi has recently completed the supply of a shiploader with a loading capacity of 6,000tph (tonnes per hour), including more than 3km of conveyers, for Puerto Brisa, an important harbour on the Caribbean Coast of Columbia. This port is located in a really strategic site as it is ideally positioned to serve Central and South America, the East Coast of the USA, the European Union, and of course the Panama Canal. The multipurpose terminal of Brisa will primarily handle coal but will also be able to handle other dry bulk cargo as well, and vessels up to 180,000dwt can be loaded at this port.

Bedeschi’s scope of work was the supply of a customized shiploader suiting the client’s requirements, and of the related overland conveyor. Engineering, manufacturing and assembly has been carried out completely by Bedeschi. The travelling, slewing and luffing shiploader is equipped with a curved chute to enable complete distribution of cargo inside the holds of vessels to be loaded, so as to avoid broken space; average capacity is 5,000tph coal (designed to handle up to 7,000tph. The shiploader is fed by a 1,800mm belt conveyor which is connected to is 3,500m land conveyor.