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Dredging Roundup - Latin America

The government of Ecuador has announced a plan to spend $70 million on the dredging of the Manta Port. That investment would be subsidized by another $30 million investment of private money, it announced. Ecuador’s Technical Secretariat of the Sea, Jose Centanaro, told Ecuador’s El Diario newspaper that Ecuador is the only nation on the west coast of South America without a port that can handle post-Panamax ships. Although there are larger cities and ports in Ecuador competing for that investment, Ecuador’s leaders said Manta is an obvious choice because it has naturally deep waters—up to 12 meters (39 feet) in some areas. Regional and national leaders told El Diario that the project was crucial for the country’s economy, which has long been one of the poorest in Latin America. The tender process for a 25-year concession to expand and operate Manta’s port was announced last year but ran into political roadblocks. It will be relaunched in September, according to the government.

A ceremony was held in June to commemorate the signing of a contract to expand Panama’s container port in Colon. Last year, the Panama Maritime Authority approved the new $600 million container terminal in Colon’s port, near the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal. The new terminal was billed as the fi rst in Panama to be built from the ground up with post-Panamax ships in mind. The expansion is being bankrolled by Asian investment consortium Taiwan Changrong Colon Container Terminal Company, and it was on-site in June to publically sign a deal with contractor Jamaica Regional Management Center of CHEC for a $60 million construction project, scheduled to be complete within 23 months.

Colombia’s most strategically important river has long been in need of improvement, and in August, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a $1.2 billion budget to make that work fi nally happen. The Magdalena River begins around the country’s productive mining and petrol-producing areas and ends in the Atlantic, but only two percent of the nation’s cargo is transported on the river because dredging has been rare and spotty, so much of the river is not navigable year-round. Last year, the Colombian government promised a public-private shared investment of $7.5 billion to go toward all infrastructure improvement, but it was unclear at that time how much would go to improving the Magdalena. In August, Santos met with ministers in the river’s region and said the new investment will be carried out along 160 miles of the Magdalena, which will be able to accommodate ships up to 7,200 tons.

Dredging International has been hired to conduct dredging work for a turning basin and mooring facility in Santa Marta, a city about 150 miles northeast of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The dredging will take place as part of an expansion plan by Colombian coal processing giant Drummond Colombia and will help the transport of coal from the mainland to export ships. The work was scheduled to begin in July and was expected to take about six months and require the use of four trailing suction hopper dredges, according to a press release by the DEME Group, to which Dredging International belongs.

Arizona-based gold mining company Ensurge Inc. took over mining—including the operation of a host of land-dredging equipment—in the Mazaruni Mining District of Guyana in August. Ensurge acquired the majority of another USbased gold mining company, TransGlobal Gold Corp., which was preparing to mine 2,500 acres of land in the Mazaruni district before the company was acquired in May. In early August, Ensurge announced that two land dredges had arrived, and within two weeks were already producing gold. “We have produced just under three ounces after about three days of very preliminary operations,” TransGlobal Executive Vice President Kurt Nunes said. “We look forward to more.” Dry dredges are increasingly being used in gold mining. The method involves sucking material from dry land so it can later be separated.

After completing a massive brownfield cleanup and a large construction project, a new container terminal in Santos now has cleared environmental hurdles and can begin operations. Developer Brasil Terminal Portuario (BTP) has been building a new container terminal in Santos, the largest port in South America and the closest port to Brazil’s largest city, São Paolo. Remediation on the polluted site took 30 months and required the removal of 711,000 cubic meters (930,000 cubic yards) of soil. That work was completed in March, but operations were held up until the Brazilian Institute of Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) issued an operating license for the terminal, which it did in July. BTP had previously obtained permissions from the Brazilian Customs House and an International Ship and Port Facility Security certification. Now that the permits have been obtained, the port authority has begun operations at the new terminal. However, its capacity is limited because the terminal’s navigation channel had only been dredged to 11.2 meters (36 feet). Dredging on the channel and the turning basin has begun to expand the capacity to 15 meters (49 feet) and that is anticipated to be completed by October. The new terminal has a quay length of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) and more than 30 cranes. BTP is a joint venture of Dutch companies APM Terminals and Terminal Investment Limited.

The oversight commission of the Uruguay River approved a plan to dredge the waterway, but experts worry that international politics may get in the way of those plans yet again. The Uruguay River forms a border between Argentina and Uruguay, and farther upstream, between Argentina and Brazil. Decisions about maintaining the river’s navigability are made by the Administrative Commission of the Uruguay River (CARU), with representatives of both Argentina and Uruguay. In July, under pressure from mayors on both sides of the river, that commission arrived at an agreement that the river must be dredged deeper and its signaling must be improved. However, the act must be certified by the governments of each country, and Argentina has not cooperated in recent plans for dredging of the two nations’ shared waterways. If approved, the river would be dredged to 25 feet for the river’s first 187 kilometers, ending at Uruguay’s Port of Concepcion, and to 19 feet up to kilometer 206 at Uruguay’s Paysandu.

A two-year dredging and restoration project on Valdivia River began in August, making way for better navigability on the southern Chilean river. The river has not been dredged since the early 1990s, according to Chilean Public Works Minister Loreto Silva. The goal is to dredge the river to 4.5 meters (15 feet), which will require removing 239,000 cubic meters (313,000 cubic yards) from 15 miles of the river. The Ministry of Public Works will employ its own trailing suction hopper dredge Ernesto Pinto Lagarrigue, built in 1978, to remove the sediments.

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