President Juan Manuel Santos and members of his administration launched the $US550 million port yesterday.
“We are honoured that the Colombian president has recognised Glencore’s ongoing commitment to, and investment in, Colombia by officially opening Puerto Nuevo,” CEO Ivan Glasenberg said.
The port has been designed to increase export capacity for Glencore’s Colombian coal division Prodeco and meet the country’s tighter coal loading guidelines.
Glencore started construction of the port in 2010.
“The opening marks a milestone for our Colombian operations, enhancing Prodeco’s ability to meet the requirements of its customers around the world.
“We look forward to continuing our well established partnership with the local community and the government as we begin the port’s operations.”
The port will load coal directly on to ships instead of using barges, with the aim of preventing environmental spills and accidents. It will be the first port in Cienaga to do so.
Each year, about 21 million tonnes of thermal and metallurgical coal will pass through Puerto Nuevo bound for North America, Europe and Asia.
The train unloading station has a capacity of 8000 t/h and a buffer silo for an additional 2500 tonnes. The pier will handle cape-size vessels of up to 180,000 deadweight tonnes.
In a move to meet the new loading guidelines, berms of up to 17m were built to isolate stockpiles and control dust emissions.
Prodeco is the third largest Colombian exporter of coal after Cerrejon and Drummond.
It does not yet export 21Mtpa, but aims to ramp up to this by 2015.
Cerrejon’s port is already direct loading. Drummond is building a port next to Prodeco's harbour to expand export capacity and comply with the change in port rules.