February 29 - A new service has been launched by four companies, Stonetrans, Rickmers-Linie, Antwerp Breakbulk Agencies and DP World Breakbulk, to ship rough blocks of granite and sandstone from India to Antwerp.

The four partners, all highly qualified in their own fields of activity, will perform specific tasks in the new venture.

Rickmers-Linie , which recently upgraded its Indian service with the addition of new vessels in 2011, will take care of the ocean transport. Five new vessels have entered this service: the period chartered vessels Linde and Martin (built 2005) and Baltic Winter (built 2011) and Rickmers' own ships Rickmers Yokohama and Rickmers Tianjin . These two are 17,000 dwt multipurpose heavy lift vessels built in China in 2011 each equipped with cranes having a combined lifting capacity of 300 tonnes.

The first stone shipment of more than 2,000 tonnes was discharged from Rickmers-Linie's vessel Martin, while a second parcel arrived in mid January on the recently-built 17,000 dwt Rickmers Yokohama.

Antwerp Breakbulk Agencies will provide and coordinate the handling, storage and distribution in the port of Antwerp at DP World Breakbulk's Quay 468 , from where the complete needs of the cargo can be satisfied, says Antwerp Breakbulk Agencies .

Stonetrans , a German company with over 30 years' experience in the trading and handling of rough blocks of granite and sandstone is responsible for all commercial activities including customs clearance, distribution, and so forth, says that by joining forces with the other three companies, an annual target of moving/handling 100,000 tonnes of stone is realistic.

While the trade as such is not new, the approach is. Traditionally such cargo moved in a conventional way with loading, transport, discharging and storage/on-carriage all needing to be arranged separately with different parties. Now Stonetrans is able to sell an integrated concept to its buyers, which includes handling at the new Stoneterminal provided by DP World Breakbulk in Antwerp's Churchill Dock.

After setting up this service from India, Stonetrans is now investigating other trade opportunities into Antwerp from China, South Africa and Brazil.