Rocktree has reported handling record cargo volumes of 28 million tonnes during 2019, in a year that marked a number of significant milestones for the Singapore-based waterborne logistics specialist.
Last year saw its newly established subsidiary company, Rocktree Consulting, awarded first contracts, while its joint venture company Rocktree EMCO Stevedore started first transshipments from the Port of Shakhtersk.
Operations under the joint-venture began in April 2019, when Rocktree deployed the multi-purpose supramax vessel RT Genova and the self-propelled floating terminal EMCO-1. The two floating terminals operate offshore Sakhalin Island with four self-propelled feeder barges and assist tugs, enabling East Mining Company (EMCO) to increase delivery volumes to 9 million tonnes during the eight months of the ice-free season. Rocktree’s other floating terminals and barging operations are currently offshore Indonesia.
RT Genova loaded Sakhalin’s first-ever capesize vessel with cargo from the Port of Shakhtersk, in May 2019.
“It was a milestone year, largely resultant of the success of the JV and the new consulting arm, which allowed us and our clients to expand into new geographical and commodity markets,” said Rocktree CEO, Daniele Pratolongo.
Speaking from Singapore, Daniel Miller, Head of Business Development, said the success of the JV’s first-year operations exceeded expectations. “Prior to the joint venture, EMCO was largely limited to loading cargoes onto supramax vessels and a few panamax vessels, but we can now load onto larger tonnage vessels: post-panamax and capesize thus reducing the transportation costs to end users.
“This capability has opened up new markets and extended the loading season. We can get bigger ships in to transport larger volumes at lower cost to a greater geographical area.”
2019 also saw Rocktree increase its activities in other commodities, such as bauxite and iron ore – a move strengthened by the formation of Rocktree Consulting, which in November completed the front-end engineering and design (FEED) for a new floating terminal for the Bauxite Hills Mine, operated by Australia’s Metro Mining Limited.
Since 2009, when Rocktree began operations with one transshipment vessel, the 40,000tpd Zeus, the company has more than doubled its workforce and expanded its fleet.
Rocktree now operates six floating terminals and multi-purpose vessels, 14 tug and barge sets, two harbour tugs, and four self-propelled barges, contributing to the company loading in excess of 180 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo onto more than 2,500 bulk carriers of varying size over the course of the past decade.
Rocktree is also marketing additional opportunities with customers for the RT Genova and its sister vessel, RT Leo, to expand their scope of operations. “There are capabilities and benefits that these vessels provide beyond transshipment that customers need to see,” said Trevor Larbey, Rocktree’s Head of Commercial and Operations.
Acquired in 2018, they can operate in both transshipment and distribution trades due to the unique ability to self-load and self-discharge at high speeds, greater than conventionally geared supramax vessels.
Combined with the ability to discharge directly to a single hopper, conveyors, barges, wharves or stockpiles, cargoes can be moved at speeds of over 3,000 tonnes per hour through a single discharge outlet, without having to shift alongside. This increases the efficiency of discharge, lowers berth utilisation, can eliminate stevedoring charges and provide an environmentally sound solution for high turn-around distribution trades and higher operational efficiency.
Looking ahead as the group builds on the successes of 2019, Mario Terenzio, Managing Director of Rocktree Consulting, commented: “Our presence in other areas will grow. We anticipate further expansion in the areas we currently operate in – Russia, Indonesia, Australia – but also new regions, such as the Middle East. We will also explore diversification into other markets new to us as we are seeing opportunities in agricultural commodities, iron ore and other minerals.”