Port sources said trial operations over the past few weeks have seen the new facility handle about 1 mt of coking coal, boiler coal and steel products.
“We have unloaded coking coal and boiler coal for the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), Steel Authority of India and other customers in Orissa, besides exporting products of Jindal Steel,” they said.
The fully mechanised port’s first phase, built at a cost of Rs20B (US$408M), has a draft of 21m which will allow it to handle ships of up to 200,000 dwt. Currently, VSP, with annual production capacity of 3 mt, imports more than 3 mt of raw materials, mainly coking coal from Australia, limestone, boiler coal and iron ore pellets.
These are discharged at the nearby Visakhapatnam port in the inner harbour with a lower draft of 12m and brought to the plant by rail at an annual cost of more than Rs1.2B.
Importing through Gangavaram has obviated the need for rail transport because the materials can be sent to the plant over conveyor belts.
The congestion-free new port has reserved two berths for VSP to handle its import and export cargoes. Gangavaram has gained at the expense of Visakhapatnam, which has already slipped to second place among India’s major ports with the loss of more than 3 mt of cargo annually.