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Dredging Roundup Latin America


Uruguay and Argentina are still negotiating over the dredging future of the Martin Garcia Channel through the shallow Rio de la Plata, even as the current dredging maintenance contract is ending. The two countries share authority over the channel, which separates them; however, Uruguay’s ports are more dependent on it. Argentina has repeatedly delayed the bidding process for a new contract, and has yet to agree to allow the expansion of the channel, despite years of pressure from Uruguay. Uruguayan leaders have accused Argentina of dragging its feet on both issues to stymie Uruguayan competition with its own ports. As it stands, Riovia S.A., a subsidary of Dutch dredging giant Boskalis International B.V., maintains the channel, but that contract ends on January 19, according to Uruguayan newspaper El Pais. Uruguayan president Jose Mujica has suggested that the two nations create an independent entity to conduct the dredging.


South American Iron & Steel Corporation has announced that it signed an agreement with Prideful Asset Management to provide dredging equipment for its iron sands concessions in Chile. The contractor will provide sand dredging equipment and other equipment to help produce high-quality magnetite iron ore concentrates from iron sands. In January, the equipment will arrive at the Putu concessions, near the city of Constitucion, and will be used to produce two million tons of iron sand concentrates within two years, a company release stated. The company also has projects near Maulin in the south of Chile and in Quince, near Copiapo in the north. South American Iron & Steel is an Australian company that is traded on the ASX.


As North American ports are racing to prepare for the new Panamax ships, so are their South American counterparts. The McClatchy News reported that of the 161 large ports in Latin America, 21 have channels of 50 feet or more, capable of accommodating the largest ships that will come through the expanded canal, anticipated to be complete by 2014. Thirteen of those are in Brazil, and others are in Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Panama. Several other countries are scrambling to find funding to deepen their ports, including Costa Rica, Jamaica, Peru and Cuba, the story reported. The canal expansion project was initially scheduled to be finished by October 2014, but it has been delayed at least six months, buying time for ports around the world to work on deepening their channels.


After about six months of dredging and other infrastructure work, Colombia’s port of Buenaventura is completing its expansion, according to online news site Mundo Maritimo. The port’s entrance channel will be dredged to 13.5 meters (44.3 feet), and its inner bay will be maintained at 12.5 meters (41 feet). Van Oord was contracted for the work, and used the dredges Hag 310 and Lelystad.


The company Dragamex has begun dredging the navigation and entrance channels of Port Topolobambo, according to a report by Info-Transportes. The project will remove 930,000 cubic meters (1,216,440 cubic yards) of material, including 330,000 cubic meters (431,640 cubic yards) from the principal channel and 600,000 cubic meters (784,800 cubic yards) from the secondary channel. The dredge Gateway will be working on the primary channel, and the dredge Amstel on the secondary channel. The Pacific port will be able to accommodate ships with loads up to 93,000 tons of cargo, and those ships should be able to move in and out of the port much more quickly after the deepening.


The territorial conflict over the dredging of the Rio San Juan continues at a low boil. Costa Rica sits on the south bank of the river and Nicaragua on the north. Nicaragua has dredged the river against Costa Rica’s wishes, but Nicaraguan leaders say it was necessary because its neighbor dumped sediment in the river when it built a road along the river. Nicaragua has recently proposed starting a diplomatic dialogue over the issue, but simultaneously, Nicaragua dubbed its newest river dredge Doña Laura in a mock homage to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, according to the Nicaraguan Dispatch. However, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who apparently wasn’t consulted before the dredge was named, asked for a more diplomatic name to be chosen. In December, the dredge was renamed Gaspar Garcia Laviana in honor of a Spanish missionary who fought Nicaragua’s dictatorship in the 1970s.


British marine and dredging company Humber Work Boats Ltd. has sent backhoe dredge Pat M to work on a dredging project in La Guaira container port in Venezuela, and plans to use the dredge for South American dredging projects from now on. “We decided to send the Pat M to Venezuela because sizeable dredging contracts had largely dried up in Europe,” said David Simon, managing director of the company, in an article in Grimsby Telegraph. “The opportunities in South America were difficult to ignore.” The self-propelled seagoing vessel was shipped to South America as cargo aboard the Hansa Heavy lift vessel Valparaiso. Pat M will be operated by four four-man crews largely from the UK, two of which will be in South America at any one time, working 12-hour shifts. La Guaira is about 20 miles away from Venezuelan capital Caracas.


C-Nav, which provides international GNSS Precise Point Positioning services, has announced it is expanding its business in South America. The company already has an office in Rio de Janeiro, and now is opening a new location in Macae, to the northeast of Rio. The company issued a press release in which Minica Castello, the Brazil regional manager for C-Nav, said the expansion is another “example of C-Nav’s strength in the offshore industry.”

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