Heavylift / Breakbulk
An exceptional logistics solution in Mozambique - Serving a huge mining project
Africa’s resources are increasingly being discovered by foreign investors. In Mozambique the Irish mining corporation Kenmare Resources is expanding the Moma titanium ore mine. The GermanSouth African joint venture RöhligGrindrod will handle the project cargo transportation of up to 100,000 t of material for the mine by the end of 2012.
Mozambique is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In the last few years the Southeast African country has achieved remarkable growth, largely fuelled by massive projects financed by foreign firms. One such project is the Moma mine, which is in the province of Nampula on Mozambique’s northeastern coast. It is run by Ireland’s stockexchange- listed company Kenmare Resources. Each year, about 800,000 t of the titanium ores ilmenite and rutile as well as of the by-product zirconium are mined there. The titanium compounds are used in pigments, paper, and plastics, amongst other things; zirconium is an opacifier in ceramics, steel, and metal casting.
Heavylift in the wet season
Further expansion of the mine has been planned for a long time already. It represents quite a task for a logistics service provider, since there are no god roads in the region and the shipment was made up largely of heavylift cargo, including some extremely heavy parts and several out-of-gauge items. To top it all off, it had to be handled mid-sea. The logistics processes became even more challenging during the wet season, when 80% of the annual rainfall comes down on the Southeast African coastal lowlands from November to April.
40 years of experience in Africa
100,000 t of cargo had to be delivered from suppliers in Australia, the USA and South Africa to the Moma mine – not only in the right order but also according to a defined schedule. Röhlig-Grindrod, a joint venture of the German freight forwarder Röhlig and its South African partner Grindrod, won the contract for this job. The group’s proven expertise was what swung the dial in its way in the end. Ian Strydom, the executive director of Röhlig-Grindrod, explained that «our qualified project cargo logistics team in South Africa and Mozambique has years of experience in handling project shipments and heavy lift cargo. We’ve been working in this area of Africa for more than 40 years alone, and are used to dealing with challenges – sometimes apparently unsolvable – to satisfy our customers’ special requirements.»
Project plans vs starting work
Difficult projects such as this one call for careful planning. No detail can be neglected. Disregarding even one aspect could cause the whole project to fail. At the beginning of 2010 Röhlig-Grindrod presented Kenmare Resources with a convincing tailor-made programme. Feasibility and road studies, consolidation and packing plans, multimodal transportation management, exact stowage planning, statistical calculations, risk management, handling, choice of appropriate loading equipment, personal loading and unloading supervision, documentation and customs clearance, and even web-based tracking and tracing options were included in the highly complex project plan. The undertaking finally began in December 2010. Several oversized components were involved, for example 15 pontoons weighing almost 107 t each and 48 m long, 5.4 m wide and 3.8 m high. The biggest single part was a 10 m high surge bin with a diameter of 7.5 m. Precise stowage plans had to be worked out for it. But before anything was delivered, all the oversized and heavylift cargo from the various suppliers was consolidated at Röhlig-Grindrod’s South African logistics supply centres in Johannesburg and Durban.
Transhipment on the beach
The sea route from the ports of Richard Bay and Durban to the site was finally chosen for shipment from South Africa to Mozambique. All in all, 20 heavylift vessels were used to transport the order. At the coast, Röhlig-Grindrod’s cargo was loaded onto barges, which were then put on seven-axle trailers with a capacity of 150 t to cover the last 6 km from the beach to the mine, where they were delivered sequentially. The entire project was completed by December 2012, when the last consignment of the more than 100,000 t of freight arrived at the destination. Transporting heavylift and project cargo units is one of the most demanding kinds of logistics service and requires particularly intensive planning. Each project is unique, which is why an owner-run company such as Röhlig, founded in Bremen (Germany) in 1852, is able to provide individual solutions in all areas of industrial plant, infrastructure projects, mining, petroleum and energy. Röhlig’s worldwide network of experts, which encompasses more than 2,000 employees working in 140 offices located in important cities worldwide, has been gathering experience in the field for more than 40 years.
Development in and around the mine
Kenmare has been addressing the issue of improving the living conditions of the population living around the Moma titanium mine – a total of no less than approximately 10,000 people – through an organisation called the Kenmare Moma Development Association (KMDA), which was founded in 2004. With the support of national and international partner institutions the KMDA has helped found a number of small businesses in around six villages surrounding the mine, and helped them generate annual incomes of approximately USD 150,000 with the production and sale of eggs, poultry farming and vegetable market gardening. Over and above this KMDA has also established a mobile clinic, four new schools and installed water pumps, amongst other things.
A bottom-up strategy
For this initiative Kenmare Resources, the owner and operator of the Moma titanium mine, has been awarded the President’s award for the best international corporate social responsibility programme by the Irish chamber of commerce and industry, in collaboration with the Irish government’s department of community affairs. The fact that the KMDA started its local development work even before the mining operations began was cited as being particularly noteworthy in this context, as was the fact that the organisation pursues a bottom-up strategy in its work.