Gujarat-based Sanghi Cements has indicated a willingness to establish a floating cement terminal at the Indian port of Cochin. This will help expand its coastal movements to South Indian markets.

The offshore terminal will consist of an anchored vessel with a bagging installation on board. Not only will it be able to mix the raw material in the vessel itself, but thereafter bag it.

At present, cement production consists of importing clinker and mixing it at shore-based plants in the ports.

The floating solution will be significantly cheaper than establishing a land-based terminal. According to Sanghi Cements, the business will generate around 300,000 tonnes of cement annually at the port.

At present, Cochin handles annual traffic of around 25.01mt (million tonnes), although is engineered to handle up to 74.6mt.

According to the port’s deputy chairman, AV Ramana, once the project becomes operational, Cochin Port will be the first major port in India to have a floating cement terminal. However, Sanghi Cements has similar facilities at the minor ports of Kutch and Navlakhi.

The deputy chairman also revealed that the port is in the process of commissioning more automated cement bagging units. Three are currently operated respectively by Ambuja, Ultra-Tech and Zuari Cements, while Penna hopes to go live by November this year and Malabar Cements by March 2019. Combined, the five terminals will have an annual capacity in the region of 3mt.

Cochin is also seeking to increase the coastal movement of steel, which could mean imports of 500,000 tonnes by 2022. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd could well bring steel materials from Vizag to Cochin to service the states of Kerala, Western Tamil Nadu and South Karnataka.

As of October, this traffic was expected to amount to 4,000 tonnes per month. Barry Cross