NAMIBIA – The Namibian Ports Authority, or Namport, plans to improve the capacity of the port of Lüderitz port, which is currently constrained by its shallow depth of -8.75 metres chart datum.
The shallowness of the port has limited the efficiency of the port and the value of transactions performed in the port-dependent coastal town, and deepening it could enhance its capacity and increase trade volume in the town.
However, the plan is facing major challenges such as limited space because the land area is next to the sea wall.
Namport is considering developing a deep-water port, which, according to the chief executive officer Andrew Kanime, will be done in conjunction with the private sector.
“There are short-term plans to enhance capacity within the port. Medium-term, Namport has identified a site at Agra point to consider developing a new deep-water port at Lüderitz. The development will depend on the business case, which includes sufficient cargo to justify the investment,” he said.
The CEO added that the company is working on proposals to key players before it can implement the plans it conceptualised.
According to Kanime, there is a need for the private sector to embrace the project and develop the port through a public-private partnership.
The large volume of manganese, which is currently the biggest cargo shipment from the port, is driving the plan to expand the port.
The manganese is imported from the Northern Cape, South Africa, and re-exported from Lüderitz port to other destinations in the world.
Currently, 30,000 tonnes of manganese are loaded at Lüderitz and transported to South Africa from where it is exported to destination markets.
“We are handling about 70,000 tonnes of manganese per annum. We have looked at optimizing the current infrastructure that we have. In terms of those optimization plans, we are confident that once we have implemented them, we can increase the handling of manganese,” said Kanime.
Once the plan is actualized, the port could handle up to two million tonnes annually.
The plan around the handling of manganese includes the deepening of the port, which is a restriction. Namport is also considering introducing a transshipment vessel to ensure manganese is not only loaded at the key.
The key is the area where the cargo is loaded directly onto the vessels.
The vessels that evacuate manganese from the port of Lüderitz have a capacity of 60,000 tonnes and can only load 30,000 tonnes because of the restriction at the port.
In the medium-term, Kanime says, Namport is considering introducing a transitional hub where the vessel will come into the port, load the 30,000 tonnes, go back to the anchorage, and have a transshipment batch to transport the additional 30,000 tonnes.
This will ensure the vessel leaves the port loaded to its capacity of 60,000 tonnes and that it leaves the port of Lüderitz to destination markets.