Biggest consignment of ammonium nitrate in history arrives in port

Floris Steenkamp

A cargo ship carrying 4 000 tons of high density ammonium nitrate (HDAN) destined for the Copper Belt in Zambia, is steaming for Walvis Bay and is expected alongside on Sunday. HDAN is an agricultural fertilizer, but if mixed with a certain chemical agent becomes a very potent and widely used mining explosive.

Although the import of ammonium nitrate through the port of Walvis Bay is not uncommon, this consignment represents the single-biggest import of this kind to date, explained the Business Development Manager of Cross-roads Distribution, Ockert Maritz this week.
Crossroads Distribution facilitates the entire process of the loading of the ammonium nitrate at the supplier overseas, transportation at sea, discharge in port, storage and transport to the end-consumer in what the company describes as its “cradle to grave” approach.
According to Maritz, a second consignment of 3 000 tons are planned for later this year.
“We take huge pride in handling this kind of cargo as well as the volumes”, explained Maritz. This particular consignment of ammonium nitrate will ensure a cash injection of N$14 million into the local economy in the form of procurement of local service providers.
Maritz further explained the ports of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Durban in South Africa resulted in the Zambian-based Africa Ware-housing & Logistics seeking alternatives in the port of Walvis Bay.
Africa Warehousing & Logistics handles the ammonium nitrate imports in Zambia on behalf of a Explosives Company in Zambia. AWL approached Crossroads Distribution in Walvis Bay and with more than 84 years of experience in the business (Crossroads started decades ago as Jowell’s Transport) the deal was sealed.
The ammonium nitrate was loaded in the port of St Petersburg in Russia. With the vessel alongside on Sunday, discharge operations are to start on Monday.
The ammonia nitrate is packed in 1,25 tons sling bags and would require fifteen trucks (34 tons load capacity) a total of 120 trips to the storage facilities of Native Storage east of Walvis Bay near the Walvis Bay International Airport.
From storage a total of 40 trucks will transport the ammonium nitrate to Kitwe.
Maritz further added the import and transport to Zambia of the 4 000 tons of ammonium nitrate is far more important that at first glance. Several big operators in Zambia are keenly watching the process, as they too are looking at alternative ports of entry than Tanzania and South Africa.
“It is important that everyone who are involved do their utmost best to facilitate a smooth transfer of the ammonia nitrate from Russian to Zambia. If we as Namibians do it right and do it right the first time it would mean more import business for Walvis Bay and more business for the Trans Caprivi Corridor”, explained Maritz. Adding, three manganese mines are planned for eastern Zambia which pose massive potential for the import of equipment and commodities via Walvis Bay relating to the mining construction- and the ultimate mining phases.
Apart from business, this also raises the bar for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group’s drive to position the port of Walvis Bay as the preferred import- and export hub between world markets and land-locked SADC countries.
Note: Crossroads Distribution is 70 % owned by Crossroads Distribution South Africa and Nam-mic Holdings (Namibia) owns a 30 % stake.
The company’s services include: Bulk Fuel Distribution throughout Namibia, Botswana and South Africa; Distribution Solutions; Warehousing Solutions; Clearing & Forwarding Solutions and Short Circuit Supply Chain Services.

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