Wood chips from Africa

Jan 31, 2005
Author: P&S

Wood chips are in the news this week with the first wood chip carrier to load in Durban for many years, coinciding with the hot commissioning of a new Elmec woodchip loader at Richards Bay.

Durbanís new NCT Durban Wood Chips (Pty) Ltd at Maydon Wharf received its first ship on Sunday (30 January) when the 36,431-gt NYK wood chip carrier Hokuetsu Ace tied up along side berth 8 to load between 30,000 and 35,000 tonnes of eucalyptus and wattle chips, bound for a customer in Japan.

photo by Terry Hutson

NCTís 320m long A-frame shape warehouse has been receiving logs from the KwaZulu-Natal midlands since August last year, which are then chipped on site. By the weekend the warehouse was completely full, with about 80,000t of wood chips stored in a building that now dominates the western Maydon Wharf skyline.

Environmental criteria regarding noise, dust, storm water management, traffic and general pollution has been so stringent that that few people passing nearby would even suspect that so much air-dried wood chips are processed (chipped) on site.

The Durban plant, costing in the region of R80 million, plans to generate 360,000 tonnes of wood chips annually for an export income worth R150 million.

King & Sons, a division of the Grindrod Group and one of Durbanís oldest shipping companies, has been appointed Shipping Agent by NCT Wood Chips, against competition from about 15 other competitors.

At Richards Bay an impressive new machine, which can load at rates of 1000 tons per hour and is costing SA Port Operations (SAPO) around R47 million, is in the process of being Ďhotí commissioned prior to being handed over to SAPO by the manufacturers, Elmec Engineering. This is the second such shiploader supplied by Elmec.

On site construction began in July last year and the machine is expected to be in full operation during February. The machine replaces a 750-ton per hour Duys loader that has been in operation since 1982, and will leave two new Elmec loaders on the T-jetty to efficiently handle around 5 million tons of woodchip exports from Richards Bay per annum.

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