Arrival of four new ZPMC Quayside Cranes at Malta Freeport



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Malta Freeport Terminals has in the beginning of July 2009 taken delivery of four new ZPMC super post-Panamax Quayside Cranes which were placed on the North Quay of Terminal Two. These super post-Panamax Quayside Cranes are amongst the world's biggest cranes and the Freeport is one of the first Terminals in Europe to invest in tandem Cranes. These Cranes have a lifting capacity of 80 tonnes, an outreach of 65.5 metres capable of handling 23 container-wide vessels on the North Quay of Terminal Two and have a lifting height under spreader above rail of 43 metres. Each Crane has a tare weight of 1,750 tonnes. With the full commissioning of these four Quayside Cranes, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, Malta Freeport Terminals will be equipped with 23 Quayside Cranes, namely 19 super post-Panamax and 4 post-Panamax. The installation of tandem Cranes is providing Malta Freeport with new logistical opportunities and the Company is implementing all the necessary measures for the yard to be capable of effectively handling the output of these Cranes.To be able to accommodate Cranes of this magnitude, Malta Freeport Terminals had to undertake various infrastructural works at the North Quay of Terminal Two where they were placed. This included the placing of load distribution plates under the full length of the landside and seaside crane rail to support the load transmitted by the new Quayside Cranes. Additionally, Malta Freeport also carried out dredging works at this quay to increase the draught to -17 metres LAT enabling the Freeport to berth vessels with a -15.5 m draught in line with the shipping lines' requirements. This work included the construction of a toe block alongside the footing of the quay wall and the placing of scour protection mats along the quayside berthing area.

Such an investment in Quayside Canes of this magnitude was imperative for the Freeport considering that shipping lines are heavily investing in ever-larger container vessels. This phenomenon is having a direct influence on the quayside cranes being deployed by terminals as they need to have a longer outreach. Moreover, given that the new vessels have higher container stacks above the deck, the cranes also require increased lifting height. With the investment in these Quayside Cranes Malta Freeport Terminals can effectively handle containerships of over 13,500 TEUs at its facilities.

Following the extension of the concession agreement in February 2008 which the Government of Malta granted Malta Freeport Terminals, from 30 years to 65 years, the Company was obliged to undertake an extensive expansion programme targeting the Port's infrastructure and equipment. Such investment was imperative for Malta Freeport to be able to boost its international stand considering the intense competition in which it is operating. The heavy investment in these 4 super post-Panamax Quayside Cranes, amounting to €24.5 million, is part of this investment programme. Since privatisation of Malta Freeport Terminals in October 2004 till the end of last year Malta Freeport Terminals has invested €92.3 million. This included the purchase of new equipment including five Quayside Cranes, Yard Cranes, modernisation of existing equipment and infrastructural works including the development of the container yard and dredging works. The Company will be developing further its infrastructure and purchasing other equipment investing an additional €145.5 million in its facilities. The higher capacity level being attained at the Container Terminals in view of the expansion programme underway is necessitating the creation of new employment opportunities particularly within the field of Operations.

Following the heavy investment programme which the Company is pursuing in its facilities, the business opportunities for the Freeport are expected to increase remarkably in the coming years. The Freeport has already acquired a significant amount of new business. Indeed, the traffic volume handled by Malta Freeport has increased remarkably by 59.6% since being privatised to reach 2.33 million TEUs last year. This represented amongst the highest percentage increases in traffic volumes in the Mediterranean transhipment market. Despite the international recession, during the first six months of this year Malta Freeport Terminals has managed to maintain last year's traffic volumes and indeed a similar amount of throughput level is expect to be handled this year. It is to be highlighted that other Mediterranean transhipment ports have experienced a decrease of around 20% in their throughput levels during this year. The positive results being registered are further empowering Malta Freeport Terminals to sustain its expansion programme so as to further raise the performance levels being attained whilst reaching its target of exceeding the three million TEU mark by 2011

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