Zarubino sea port is braced for new dredging projects

Zarubino is a rapidly developing sea port on the Russian Far East. Credit: Vladimir Vorotnikov

The Russian Far East intermodal box transport specialist FESCO, will build a new coal terminal in the Zarubino sea port, Primorsky Krai, Russia, in a joint venture with the Mongolian state-owned coal miner Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC, Alexander Isurin, head of FESCO disclosed, speaking during a press conference in Vladivostok.

The project is estimated to cost USD260 million, while the transshipment capacity of the new terminal will reach 10 million tonnes of coal per year, Isurin said. The main aim of the project is to handle transport flows of Mongolian coal to the Asian-Pacific markets, including China and South Korea, Isurin said.

It would be possible to make the entire project operational in three years, but it would require a lot of work from different parties, Isurin said. This would be a greenfield project, so in addition to building the terminal, FESCO and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi would need to carry out dredging in the Zarubino sea port aquarium supplied by the Russian government agency, Russian Sea Ports, he said.

Aside from that, the new terminal would require a railway connection plus a connection to the Russian common electricity grid, Isurin said.

By using the Russian Far East sea ports, Mongolia would be able to gain access to the sea, Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga said following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year. The 2018 intergovernmental agreement on terms for rail freight transit transportation has opened this opportunity for the country, he added.

This is the second major project in the Zarubino sea port announced over the past few years that would require some dredging operations.

FESCO has not yet disclosed any details regarding its plans, but over the past few years local environmentalists have been repeatedly raising concerns over the negative impact the dredging could cause to the environment, as well as to the neighbouring mariculture farms.

The dredging in this area of Zarubino sea port would destroy the feeding base of the hydrobionts and cause losses to the local aquaculture companies of close to Rub7 billion (USD110 million), Viktor Zhukov, director of the local aquaculture firm Zarubino Fleet Base, said a year ago during public hearings dedicated to the building of a new grain terminal in the sea port.

This would prompt some companies to go bankrupt, he added. Zarubino sea port is near the Khasansky Bay, which is considered as a center of the mariculture production on the Russian Far East.

Speaking at the same public hearings, Michael Nikolaevsky, director of the Morstroitechnologii said that although the company was not obliged to, it had opted to use more environmentally friendly technology, using a single-tier dredger. Nikolaevsky explained that this was considered as a low-impact technology, and it would minimise harm to the environment.

The new grain terminal in the Zarubino sea port is slated to become operational in 2024. Morstroitechnologii plans to remove 800,000 m3 of soil to increase depth on the waterway from the current 13 m to 18 m.