As many industry experts predict European coal imports will rise
sharply, international inspection, analysis and assaying specialist,
Stewart Group is prepared for the projected increase in bulk
materials shipments.
With coal production from Western Europe continuing to fall,
the company has noted considerable increases in coal imports
from outside Europe, resulting in a greater need for sampling and
inspection specialists. While imports into the continent increase,
coal consumption across Europe remains steady, with an influx in
usage from Eastern European states, such as Bulgaria, Romania
and Turkey, making up for a shortfall from other European states.
An important location for Stewart Group and the European
coal imports is the Netherlands Port of Rotterdam, which is
home to the world’s largest coal and ore terminal. Stewart
Group is one of the major surveyors at the port, and employs a
variety of methods to inspect high-tonnage bulk material
Jan Zaanen at Stewart Group’s Rotterdam facility, comments:
“Draught survey continues to be the most effective method of
measuring the weight of bulk materials and, with each vessel
needing only four to five hours to complete, it is an efficient and
accurate method in comparison to alternative processes. For
example, the method is faster than belt and hopper scales, and
allows us to typically deal with between three to four vessels a
“A combination of automatic inspection, visual inspection and
sampling by hand, allow us to give a high level of accuracy. Such
processes are necessary to inspect bulk cargo for impurities, such
as wood and metals, which affect the weight of the cargo and can
cause damage to on-shore equipment.
“Extensive checks are also needed before cargo is loaded,
which is especially important with the high-tonnage shipments
that are to become an even larger part of activities in European
ports. These procedures are essential to prevent the
contamination of large loads of bulk materials, and must include
the examination of the ship’s main hold as well as the loading and
discharge equipment used for materials handling.
“These processes are necessary to calculate the intrinsic value
of cargo, as well as to ensure the load adheres to strict shipping
regulations. The activities are also important to ensure the safety
and stability of the vessels during transit, and to identify cargo
with excessive moisture that may need additional treatments,
such as the addition of lime.”
Despite the turbulent commodity markets, Stewart Group
recently improved its European capacity with the opening of a
new inspection site in the heart of Nordenham Port, Germany.
The move ensures the company can provide fast and effective
onsite services at a number of key German ports, including a
support site at Hamburg. The new 24-hour Nordenham site is
fully equipped to provide full service solutions for solid fuel and
concentrate materials, including moisture and weight
determination, screen sizing, crushing and final sample
Chris Walker, Managing Director, Inspection & Analysis division
comments: “The addition to our German network is part of our
continued commitment to increase our global coverage and the
ability to provide the highest quality of services in the locations
where our customers have the greatest demand. We are well
positioned to service all North German ports effectively and the
solid fuel markets they support.
“The move is an important element in our long-term strategy
for dealing with the recent financial crisis and dramatic shifts in
international trading. We’ve anticipated the changes that are
occurring with coal imports into Europe, and recognize the
demand for the services we provide.”
Developments in other key territories have helped the growth
of Stewart Group over the last 18 months, as they remain a
competitive global service provider. These include expanded
operations in Liberia, Mongolia and South Africa as well as a
partnership with Canadian firm G&T Metallurgical Services.
Chris Walker comments: “We continue to flourish because of
our flexibility and desire to ensure every customer has a service
tailored to their requirements. We have developed facilities in
strategic locations across the world and identified the core
regions where Stewart Group will invest in the years to come.
“The components are in place to continue our future growth
— a strong base of facilities to support a range of clients, and a
depth of experienced, skilled technicians to provide the best level
of service available.”