April 30 - The pumps have been switched on at the Deurganck dock lock, Port of Antwerp, and 1.5 million cu m of water is filling what will be the world's largest lock upon its completion in 2016.
The Antwerp Port Authority said the new lock is the second to be located in Waasland Port, a docking area on the Scheldt River. The new lock will guarantee access to the docks and negate the impact of tidal currents.
The Deurganck dock lock chamber measures 500 m long by 58 m wide, with a depth of 17.8 m - about 4 m deeper than the Berendrecht Lock in the north of the Port of Antwerp, which is currently the world's largest.
It will take approximately seven days for the lock to fill.
The next phase of the project is to install the lock's supersize gates, which have been fabricated in China by ZPMC.
ZPMC is also responsible for the delivery of the gates to Antwerp, which will be carried out by its heavy transport vessel Zhen Hua 15. The gates are scheduled to arrive at the Belgian gateway on June 2, 2015.
The Port of Antwerp claims that freight volume at Waasland Port is forecast to increase by approximately 56 percent from around 16 million tonnes in 2011 to more than 25 million tonnes in 2020. The cost of building the second lock is estimated at USD426.6 million (EUR382 million), which is being co-financed by the Flemish Region and the Antwerp Port Authority.