Rotterdam, Antwerp 2012 breakbulk cargo volumes down on weak steel market

Breakbulk cargo volumes handled by both Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands fell year-on-year in 2012 as steel volumes were affected by the weak European market, according to port authorities.

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Provisional figures show that the Port of Antwerp saw a drop of 14.9% year-on-year in conventional breakbulk volumes to 10.8 million tonnes.

“The result is mainly due to the fall in steel handled, which reflects the current market conditions,” the port authority said.

Total freight handled in Antwerp in 2012 was down by 1.8% year-on-year to 183.8 million tonnes, the provisional figures show, with dry bulk expected to fall by 0.4% compared with 2011, to 19.01 million tonnes.

Final data on the amount of freight handled, expected later this month, will give more details on the drop in steel volumes, a spokeswoman for the Belgian port said.

The Port of Rotterdam reported provisional data showing a fall of 5% year-on-year in breakbulk volumes to 24 million tonnes for January-December 2012, mainly due to “the greatly reduced import of steel”.

Total dry bulk figures are also expected to be down by 9.6% year-on-year to 79 million tonnes, mainly due to an 11.7% fall in the amounts of of iron ore and scrap handled.

“In the dry-bulk market segment, declining steel production in Europe was responsible for reduced throughput, especially of ore,” Hans Smits, the Port of Rotterdam’s president and ceo said.

However, total freight throughput at Rotterdam in 2012 is estimated to be up by 1.7% year-on-year to 442 million tonnes, principally owing to rises in volumes of crude oil and oil products.