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Dredging Roundup / LATIN AMERICA Sep/Oct 2015


For years local leaders have been advocating for the dredging of Mazatlan Port, but the city’s mayor, Carlos Felton Gonzalez, said there’s still a major roadblock: Determining where to deposit the dredged material, according to reports by Mexican publication El Sol de Mazatlan. Earlier this year, several mayors of Northern Mexican cities sent a statement to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto asking him to deliver on his promise to dredge Mazatlan’s port, which they believe is key to improving the economy of Mexico’s north. In August, congressman Raúl Santos Galván proposed that the federal government next year provide 690 million pesos ($41 million USD) of the 1.3 billion pesos ($77 million USD) that Nieto promised for the project. About 140 million pesos ($8.3 million USD) were invested in 2014 to the project, and this year, 190 million pesos ($11.3 million) are expected. However, the money thus far has not translated into dredging the port to 15 meters (49 feet), as local leaders desire. Gonzalez said that the dredging cannot begin until permits are received to deposit the dredged material near the waterfront thermoelectric plant, which is the current plan but has not been approved.


Three docks at the Port of Angamos have successfully been dredged to 13.5 meters (44 feet), allowing for some of the world’s largest ships to call on the Northern Chile port, reports Chile’s MundoMaritimo. The three sites will accommodate ships 366 meters (1,200 feet) long, 49 meters (160 feet) wide, and with a capacity as much as 14,000 TEUs. About $16 million USD were invested in the project, which began in late April of this year and wrapped up in July. The dredged material was taken to a location 11 km (6.8 miles) offshore. The Port of Angamos is one of two terminals at the Port Complex of Mejillones, north of Antofagasta in Chile’s northern desert. The region is heavily mined for copper and other minerals and is in constant need for improved infrastructure to accommodate exports.


The Ministry of Public Works (MOPT) has warned that one of Costa Rica’s largest ports is desperately in need of an “urgent emergency dredging” in its loading zone. The accumulation of sediments has already begun to cause problems for ships, MOPT’s maritime director Jorge Mora told Costa Rican newspaper La Nación. The publication reported that sedimentation had reduced the depth significantly from its usual 10-meter (33-foot) depth. The sedimentation has built up over the course of five years; the port should be dredged every three to four years, Mora told La Nación.


Dredging along the Uruguay River is continuing at a fast clip, reports Uruguayan publication DIARIOJUNIO. After years of planning, several segments of the important waterway have now been dredged to more than 22 feet, and were certified to that depth after bathymetric inspections by the Administrative Commission of the Uruguay River (CARU). The river forms the border of Uruguay and Argentina, and Uruguayan officials dream of making it more easily navigable by large ships and barges. They have selected six critical points along the river to dredge. The work is being conducted by the dredge Alfredo Labadíe and the Santa Fe 258C. The project is deepening critical points in the river’s first 187 kilometers (116 miles)  to 23 feet. The following 20 kilometers (12 miles) will be dredged to 19 feet deep. This will allow ships to travel deep into the interior of the country, allowing for easier exports of the region’s agricultural riches. The six sections are all between the port cities of Nueva Palmira and Fray Bentos. Punta Caballos and Punta Barrizal are the two remaining sites to dredge. About 500,000 cubic meters of material will be removed from the river.

The DOP250 submersible pump from Damen Dredging Equipment begins to lower into a partition of the caisson. As part of the construction project, Damen’s equipment pumped sand in and out of the caissons, which formed two breakwaters.


The International Atomic Energy Agency is promoting nuclear techniques to track sediment movements, techniques the agency says has saved Brazil millions of dollars in dredging costs. An article produced by the agency’s public information office reports that researchers at Brazil’s Environment Department of the National Nuclear Energy Commission has been using nuclear techniques since the 1960s. The method involves introducing small quantities of radioisotopes, such as gold-198 or iridium-192, into sediment samples, dropping them at key points along the coastline near ports, and then tracing their movements using detectors dragged by boats. This allows for a nuanced understanding of how and where sedimentation moves over time. The agency says the technique has helped researchers determine the ideal location to deposit dredged material outside of Brazil’s massive Port Santos, finally selecting a site close enough to be efficient for dredging operations but located strategically so the sedimentation does not migrate back into the port. The technique was to be a focus of discussion at the IAEA’s Scientific Forum in Vienna in mid-September.


Damen Dredging Equipment has delivered two submersible dredge pumps to a large harbor construction project in Sao Joao de Barra. The project, which was conducted by Acciona, involved designing and constructing two artificial breakwaters at a port about 150 miles north of Rio de Janeiro along the South Atlantic coast. As part of the project, Acciona used sand-filled concrete caissons to build an auxiliary dock. Damen provided two DOP250 submersible dredge pumps attached to cranes to pump sand in and out of the caissons. The sand pumped out of the caissons was pumped to a nearby beach. The pumps arrived on the site in January and the work was completed in May.


Financial wire reports that Brazil’s Maceio port has lost a meter of draft, which could stymie the region’s ability to export sugar. In July, the port was forced to revise its draft from 10.5 meters (34.5 feet) to 9.5 meters (31 feet) after silt and mud gathered over the course of years without dredging. Platts reports that the port has not been dredged since the 1990s, and with the draft reduced, can no longer accommodate the largest of the vessels that once docked there to load up sugar. Sugar is a key export for Brazil’s northeast region.

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