KUCHING: The proposed RM1.8bil Samalaju deepsea port, which is designed and built to serve energy-intensive industries in Bintulu’s Samalaju Industrial Park (SIP), is slated for full operations in about nine months.
BINTULU PORT HOLDINGS BHD (BPHB) chief executive officer Datuk Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad said physical construction of the entire port project was expected to be completed by the end of this year.
“We have fixed April 1 next year as the date for the full commissioning of the new port,” he told StarBiz.
Several work packages are currently in various advanced stages of completion. These are capital dredging and reclamation works (contract value of RM437mil), breakwater and associated works (RM305mil), wharf and associated works (RM311.1mil), electrical works and a navigation aids system (RM47.5mil), the design, construction and completion of the conveyor system facilities (RM157mil), the construction of an administrative building and associated works (RM40.4mil), as well as the design, construction, delivery, installation, testing and commissioning of three units of level luffing crane complete with hopper and conveyor belter feeder (RM38.1mil).
According to Mior Ahmad, as construction work of some of the packages has been lagging behind the implementation schedule for several months, BPHB has put in place a “catch-up” plan for the contractors involved to speed up their work to ensure on-time completion of the project.
The Samalaju Port, which caters to handymax and handysize vessels, is operated by BPHB subsidiary Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd (SIPSB). SIPSB has been running the port’s interim facilities, comprising two barge berths and a ro-ro ramp, since April 2014 for mainly construction materials and equipment for the manufacturing plants in SIP.
PRESS METAL BHD, which owns an aluminium smelting plant, is the largest investor in SIP. Following an expansion and production ramp-up, the company now has a total smelting capacity of 760,000 tonnes per annum, making it the largest in South-East Asia.
Press Metal also owns an aluminium smelter in the Mukah division. Both Bintulu and Mukah are within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, which taps the abundant renewable hydro energy to power giant industrial plants.
Also in production in SIP are Japan’s Tokuyama Corp’s polycrystalline silicon plant and OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd – an OM Holdings Ltd-CAHYA MATA SARAWAK BHD joint venture – which is the first of three producers of ferrosilicon and manganese alloys to commission operations about two years ago.
The other two are Sakura Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd and Permata Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd, which started their commercial production in May and June 2016, respectively.
As these energy-intensive industries are now using the faraway Bintulu Port – located some 45km from SIP – to bring in raw materials and ship out their finished products, the commissioning of the Samalaju Port is expected to benefit them considerably in transportation and logistics costs.
The new port is equipped with facilities to deliver raw materials from incoming cargo vessels direct to a manufacturing plant in SIP via a conveyor belt system against the current practice of using lorries to transport them from Bintulu Port to the plant.
Meanwhile, BPHB’s wholly-owned unit Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd awarded an RM11.8mil contract to Syarikat Perdagangan Udie Sdn Bhd (SPUSB) two weeks ago for the design, construction, delivery, testing and commissioning of four units of a portable conveyor system and other equipment for the handling of palm kernel products at Bintulu Port.
Mior Ahmad said upon the completion of the contract, expected in five months’ time, SPUSB would be engaged as a contractor to handle palm kernel products for the port for a five-year period.
He said the volume of palm kernel products handled by the port had increased to about 500,000 tonnes a year from between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes previously.
Palm kernel products and other agricultural-based cargo were key drivers for a 21% growth in the dry bulk cargo handled by Bintulu Port last year.
The port handled 4.11 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo, up from 3.39 million tonnes in 2014.