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Clogged port chokes off Chile's steel imports

  • Author
  • Tom Azzopardi
  • Editor
  • Tom Balcerek
  • Commodity
  • Metals Shipping

Santiago — Steel fabricators in Chile are in danger of running out of steel after a bureaucratic mix-up clogged one of the country's main ports, an industry body said Jan. 7.

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According to metallurgical industry association ASIMET, around 100,000 mt of goods are stuck on two vessels moored off the Port of Lirquen waiting to unload wind turbine towers bound for local energy projects, ASIMET said, adding that more than thirty of its member companies have been affected by the situation.

"Many ASIMET members depend on timely delivery of their cargoes and the delay has caused serious damage, in terms of additional costs and lack of product when there is a shortage of steel in international markets and demand in Chile is high," said ASIMET Chairman Daniel Arrigoni.

Once the towers are unloaded, the steel-carrying vessels will be able to continue into the ports of Valparaiso and San Antonio, which receive the bulk of the steel imported by Chile. However, all available space in the port is occupied by more towers which cannot be transported due to the lack of road permits.

The closure of flat steel production in Chile means that companies must replace it with imported steel, Arrigoni added.

Measuring more than 5 meters in diameter and and up 35 meters long, the towers require special permits to be transported by road and these have not been granted, ASIMET explained.

A spokeswoman for energy firm AES Gener, which owns one of the wind energy projects involved, told Platts that the company would not comment on the situation.