Championing Steel, Forestry Volumes
As Europe’s leading steel and non-ferrous port, Antwerp has seen a distinct upward trend in steel volumes.
The Belgium port has handled about 6 million tonnes of conventional steel and 3 million tonnes of containerized steel in recent years. This year, it is predicting 8.6 million tonnes of conventional steel volumes.
While China’s flood of steel exports has been slowed by anti-dumping measures in many countries, this only impacted country of origin, not volumes of steel. Antwerp’s Wim Dillen said the gap left by a decrease in steel shipments from China has been more than filled by other countries, notably South Korea, India, Turkey and Brazil.
At the same time, the port has seen higher steel exports – most going to North America. This is despite President Trump’s threat to use anti-dumping measures against European steel producers. “America still needs steel, and the growth there is such that they simply can’t provide enough steel to meet their needs,” Dillen said.
Antwerp’s unique selling position remains its proximity to the key areas of consumption and production based on the Ruhr and in northern France, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands.
“With our inland location and being able to receive the biggest vessels, we are very interesting because we generate a lot of export cargo,” Dillen said. “A ship can come to the port to import steel and take cargo back; it avoids running empty and that is very attractive. Also, there is no denying that a lot of cargo changes from breakbulk into containers in our port, and vice versa. Being able to offer both solutions is enormously helpful.”
As well as steel increases, Antwerp is also seeing higher volumes of forest products after many downward years. As a result, the port expects to see 11 million tonnes of breakbulk cargo this year.
Antwerp has 15 terminals specialized in breakbulk cargo, and over the past three years there has been substantial investment by terminal operators in new heavy-lift cranes and equipment, and in adapting and strengthening warehousing.
A successful investment provided a climate chamber with a range of 60 to -60 degrees Celsius for testing wind turbines and other components before they are installed in harsh conditions offshore.
This has attracted shippers because generators and other pieces can be tested before going offshore, Dillen said, and the climate chamber has been expanding its role, being used to test mining equipment going to the Arctic area.
Image credit: Port of Antwerp
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