Montreal pursues major upgrade initiative as box volumes grow 4.4pc
THE Canadian port of Montreal handled a record 40
THE Canadian port of Montreal handled a record 40.5 million tonnes of cargo in 2019, up from 39 million tonnes in 2018, while container volume rose by 4.4 per cent to 1.75 million TEU.
'In 2020, we are projecting that container traffic could increase another three per cent,' said Montreal Port Authority (MPA) vice president Tony Boemi, who attributed the overall cargo growth in 2019 in part to the resumption of activity at the Viterra grain terminal hit by a nine-month lockout in 2018.
Highlights on the cargo front in 2019, noted Mr Boemi, included a resurgence of US Midwest cargo which had been on a steady decline. 'The increase in Midwest business is spread amongst most of the major carriers calling Montreal.
'Emerging markets continue to have a positive impact on the port of Montreal,' he continued. 'This is the result of transshipment ports being used as hubs to trans-load cargo from the mega containerships to the right size vessels needed for market access.'
Emerging markets in Asia today represent 26 per cent of Montreal's container volume, followed by the Middle East (seven per cent) and Latin America (five per cent). Europe remains the port's largest maritime trading partner, although its percentage share has diminished somewhat despite the positive impact of the two-year old free trade agreement with the European Union.
The highlights on port infrastructure expansion include the work to begin in 2020 on expanding the Viau container terminal by 250,000 TEU. Also, on tap is the redevelopment of the Bickerdike Terminal that is the main base for domestic container shipments to Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands. The capacity of the port's rail network will be enlarged by 20 per cent.
Funding has been received from the federal government to improve truck and rail fluidity within the port area.
Finally, plans are moving forward for a major container terminal project entailing added capacity of 1.1 million TEU at Contrecoeur, 25 miles downstream from Montreal on the St Lawrence River, with a start-up target of 2023-2024. The terminal would boost Montreal's total container capacity from 2.1 million TEU to 3.2 million TEU.
The port's two leading terminal operators, MGT and Termont (Logistec group) have been holding discussions on a possible joint venture.
'On the environmental aspect, we are moving closer to obtaining the required permits,' Contrecoeur VP Ryan Dermody told the American Journal of Transportation.
'Following the filing of our impact study in 2018, we have been answering questions from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. We are hopeful to obtain the required authorisations in 2020 and we are currently preparing the detailed engineering of project which, with the necessary environmental approval, will allow us to proceed with the first phases of construction.'
Meanwhile, in the latest significant development, Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership's CEO Michel Fratianni confirmed that 14 state-of-the-art Liebherr cranes are to be purchased. As part of an equipment upgrade programme, ten Liebherr electric rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs) will be complemented in the coming two years by four ship-to-shore cranes.
'We now have the largest fleet in Canada of electric rubber-tired gantries,' he said.
The head of the biggest terminal operator at the port of Montreal stressed that the investments in the energy-efficient cranes support MTG's continuous efforts to optimise productivity and capacity at its Racine and Cast terminals while reducing carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions.