Low backhaul container freight rates from Africa to Asia are prompting the containerization of some minor bulk cargoes, according to Ivan Thuynsma, the recently appointed global head of Damco’s mining vertical.
He said using containers for commodities makes sense because of the imbalance in the container trade between Africa and Asia that leaves carriers eager for any backhaul cargoes.
“Container rates to Asia from Africa are relatively cheap compared to bulk shipping rates — sometimes only a fifth of the cost of shipping in bulk,” Thuynsma told The Journal of Commerce. “This solution reduces logistics costs, and makes African mined minerals competitive in Asian markets.”
The solution is suitable for cargoes that don’t usually move in huge volumes, including copper, certain ferro-chromes and uranium.
Damco, the logistics arm of A.P. Moller-Maersk and a sister company of Maersk Line, uses whichever line offered the best solution or opportunity, said Thuynsma, who joined Damco from UTi. “To illustrate this, we have just entered into an agreement with Hartmann Project Lines to roll-out a half-height container product specifically aimed at the mining industry, and specifically for shipping medium-volume heavy commodities between Africa and the Far East,” he said.
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