September 8 - An agreement that could generate more heavy lift traffic to the West coast of South America from one of Europe's most important heavy lift and project ports via the Panama canal has been signed.

Officials from the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) travelled to the port of Antwerp to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to "jointly help foster commercial activity between the two authorities."


The MOU was inked by ACP administrator and CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx.


The MOU will increase co-operation, such as joint marketing and co-ordination on modernisation and expansion projects, and help boost trade between the Port of Antwerp and the West Coast of South America via the Panama Canal.


Services that will be encouraged to move from Antwerp through the Canal will be able to transport heavy lift and project cargo to Chilean and Peruvian ports to support regional developments in the mining, aggregate, alternative power generation and infrastructure sectors.


While the Port of Antwerp is one of Europe's most important container ports, heavy lift and project activity remains very important to the Belgian gateway.


In one example, in May, HLPFI reported that the first of nine shipments of some "spectacular" project cargo, out-of-gauge cranes and rolling stock, had moved over the port destined for a major quarrying operation in the South Pacific.


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