May 4 - The first of nine shipments of some "spectacular" project cargo, out-of-gauge cranes and rolling stock, have moved over the port of Antwerp destined for a major quarrying operation in the South Pacific.

The nine shipments involve some 1,000 days of port labour in Antwerp and will be used for the construction of the Koniambo project, the development of a massive nickel ore mine in New Caledonia being undertaken by the Société Minière du Sud Pacifique.

Sarens, a Belgian specialist in heavy lift, will help build the mine in New Caledonia. In order to transport all the goods to the island, Sarens is working with multipurpose terminal operator Zuidnatie in Antwerp.

Meanwhile, breakbulk traffic, including heavy lift cargoes, at the port in the first three months of the year dipped as total traffic, including containerised project cargo, enjoyed double-digit growth.

The port of Antwerp handled 42 million tonnes of freight in the first three months of this year, up 12.7 percent on the same period in 2009. Containers made up 58 percentr of the total freight volume, having already risen back up to the level of 2008.

In the conventional/breakbulk field, 2.6 million tonnes was loaded and unloaded, making this the only category down on 2009.