The port of Maputo has handled its largest ever ship to call here, the “MV Mineral Belgium”, which departed last week laden with 90,000 tonnes of ferro-chrome and chrome, according to a media statement issued here Monday by the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), which operates the port.

The ship was only able to use the port because of the dredging of the access channel. The dredging is nearing its conclusion — it began in May and should be concluded in January, deepening the access channel from 11 metres to 14.2 metres at high tide. The MV Mineral Belgium has a draught of 11.4 metres.

This enormous ship is 289 metres long and 45 metres wide. It has nine holds, and so is the vessel with the largest number of holds ever to dock in Maputo. “This made the operation even more special in terms of efficiency,” said the MPDC statement.

“This is an important landmark for Maputo port,” said Osorio Lucas, the Executive Director of MPDC. “It’s the first ship to load more than 80,000 tonnes, something which six months ago we could only dream of doing. Today we are sure that we can have more ambitious dreams, and our next target is to load 100,000 tonnes.”

The loading operation used mobile cranes, recently acquired by MPDC. The new cranes have increased productivity, and improved the competitiveness of the port, since shipping companies can use cheaper ships without their own on-board cranes.

Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita said: “This operation is of great importance for the sector and for the economy of our country. That ships of this size can now dock at Maputo port means that we will become more competitive.”

Large mineral cargoes from Maputo would no longer have to be shipped first to the South African ports of Durban or Richards Bay in order to be loaded onto modern ocean-going vessels

“It is fundamental that other partners in the logistics chain align their strategies so that we can maintain the competitiveness of our parts”, added Mesquita.