"10 years ago we mined less than 60 million tonnes of coal" muses Agus, a jetty worker, as he watches another loaded coal barge steaming down the Mahakam river; "now Indonesia is mining about four-times as much; that's almost 5 million tonnes a week" he exclaims.
Such has been the explosive growth of Indonesian coal production that road, river and marine logistics infrastructure has struggled to keep pace. Coal trucks compete with the public and forestry trucks on Kalimantan's busy haul roads, barges queue for space at jetties and for access to the Barito River and transhipment vessels cannot operate fast enough to load the hungry panamax and capesize vessels waiting offshore. Because of shallow draughts, the geographic spread of new mines and the challenges of coordinating infrastructure investment, Indonesia has not been able to develop the same advanced rail networks, multi-user ports and other infrastructure witnessed in competing producer countries such as South Africa and Australia.
Nevertheless, the quality and sophistication of Indonesia's coal logistics systems is improving rapidly. PT Sarana Daya Mandiri, a company majority owned by miner PT Adaro, has recently completed the dredging of a 15 km channel at the mouth of the Barito River. The channel allows 24 hour per day river access – up from 6 to 8 hours previously – and passage for larger vessels. Contractors servicing major miners such as Adaro are investing in larger (12,000+ dwt) self-propelled barges which deliver superior economies of scale and improved sea handling capability.
Offshore marine logistics is also moving to the next level. While the first generation of floating cranes continue to ply their trade along the Kalimantan coast, operators have responded to customers' demands for faster, more reliable services and have introduced specialist transhipment vessels equipped with multiple cranes, conveyors and efficient shiploading systems. Singapore-based IMC Corp now operates a number of such vessels in Indonesia, while local operator PT Mitra Bahtera Segara Sejati and partner CoeClerici of Italy operate a transhipper for PT Kaltim Prima Coal.
Scorpio Logistics – the marine logistics division of European shipping company, Scorpio group – is about to introduce the next generation of transhipment vessel into Indonesia. Scorpio's offshore floating terminal (OFT) Zeus will combine the qualities of existing transhippers – fast loading rates (30,000+ tpd) and superior reliability – with new features including homogenous blending capability, floating storage and automatic sampling.
"With lower coal prices, our customers are seeking to earn a premium by distinguishing themselves as reliable suppliers of consistent quality coal" says Daniele Pratolongo, the Director of Scorpio Logistics; "We support their business by providing high-quality, value-adding services" he continues. Scorpio's cranes have a 38 meter reach, capable of unloading two side-by-side barges simultaneously. Multiple hoppers and variable speed conveyors allow customers to blend coals homogeneously in any desired ratio, without the additional barging and handling costs associated with shore based facilities. Sampling equipment designed by SGS also verifies for the benefit of suppliers and buyers the exact coal quality entering the vessel. Zeus' floating storage is sufficient for customers to pre-load a standard barge prior to vessel arrival, therefore taking pressure off barge logistics.
Scorpio's OFT will also operate to world-class safety and environmental standards. "It's consistent with our corporate philosophy" says Pratolongo, "We care, and I know our customers care, about the safety of crew and the protection of the environment". Zeus is fitted with fully enclosed grabs, enclosed conveyors and dust suppression systems to prevent pollution, but also to protect against cargo contamination.