Essar Ports has emerged as the highest bidder for the mechanization and operation of three iron ore berths at the port of Visakhapatnam. Two of these will be in the outer harbour and one in the inner harbour and will be operated for a period of 30 years. Among them, the three berths can handle 23mt (million tonnes) per annum.

Once commissioned, Essar ports will have a combined 39mt per annum capacity on the Indian East coast, since it operates a similar berth at Paradip Port.

Two of the new berths — those in the outer harbour — are expected to commence operation in the next three to four months. These will be able to accommodate bulk carriers of 200,000dwt leaving the inner harbour berth to handle Panamax vessels of up to 80,000dwt.

In the last financial year,Visakhapatnam posted figures of 12.3mt of iron ore, despite there being a downturn in overall exports of this commodity out of India.

Barry Cross