A PARTNERSHIP between German-based thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions and Australia’s National Ports aims to make the operation of bulk carriers and materials handling equipment more efficient in shallow water ports. The cooperation is aimed at further developing a new technology, the super shallow draft bulk carrier.

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The super shallow draft bulk carrier can be loaded directly from the land via shore conveyors, thus limiting capital expenditure for new port infrastructure.

The self-propelled vessel will open shallow draft ports to greater tonnages with no dredging and limited capital expenditure. It will offer mining operators efficiency improvements, including faster materials handling at lower cost and reduced environmental risk.

National Ports’ managing director Marco Lucido said, “Our solution will open up access to shallow loading and destination ports, including those affected by large tides. The system will significantly increase cargo throughput for existing mining companies with limited draft, thus helping make mining companies more economically viable.”

The majority of global import and export ports for bulk material are geographically remote and not sufficiently dredged to handle modern bulk carriers. Such bulk carriers with deadweight of 180,000 tons usually require a draft of around 19 metres including under keel clearance. Most ports have a draft of 14 metres or less. Dredging is very expensive and costs increase exponentially when dredging of hard materials is required, not forgetting negative impacts on the marine environment.

With the super shallow draft bulk carrier, thyssenkrupp and National Ports offer mining companies and port operators a fast and efficient bulk material handling solution for shallow ports. With up to 185,000 tons deadweight capacity on a 14 metre draft, the new system will be able to transit ports with limited water depth.

It will be capable of self-unloading its cargo at a rate of up to 10,000 tons per hour into bulk carriers of any size, including the Valemax with a 400,000 deadweight ton capacity, or directly at the destination port in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

The bulk carrier can be loaded from any ocean-going vessel or directly from the land side via shore conveyors, limiting capital expenditure for new port infrastructure. Mine and port operators can charter the system on a per ton basis.

The new bulk carrier is technically based on a conventional bulk carrier, supplemented by sponsons, which are attached to both sides of the carrier and provide additional flotation, enabling the ship to operate fully loaded in shallow waters.

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