Coastal Doors of Sonora’s Commercial ActivitiesWed, 10/21/2015 - 17:34
Q: What has been the Port of Guaymas’ significance in the economic development of Mexico and Sonora?
A: The Port of Guaymas is, without a doubt, the most important port in Sonora and one of the most relevant in the country. This port has greatly contributed to the region’s economic development by becoming a significant catalyst for importation and exportation activities in Mexico. Unlike other ports in the country, Guaymas is a port of exit, which means we are mainly focused on exports. Since a great deal of our coastal trade and international maritime transit consists of exports, Guaymas is offering solid commercial opportunities to companies in northwestern Mexico and the southern US. We have the capacity to handle any type of merchandise, and we have several business units, including grains, minerals, cruises, fluids, and general cargo. However, mining is one of the main economic drivers in the state, which made us specialize in the commercialization of bulk minerals. The port can undertake both operational and harbor piloting activities, which means that we can receive the minerals, store them temporarily, and ship them. Currently, the commercialization of minerals represents 75% of our operational cargo.
Q: Which strategies were implemented to transform the port from a subsidized entity to a high-performance business?
A: Six years ago, the Port of Guaymas was ranked as the 13th best port in Mexico. However, the drive provided by the mining industry has enabled the port to climb to fifth place in recent years. It still has the same infrastructure and capacity as before, but our commercialization activities have become more efficient. The port’s international promotion forced us to provide services that can compete with any other port in the world, enabling us to acquire important clients such as ArcelorMittal, FreeportMcMoRan, and BHP Billiton. Having these clients in our portfolio helped us change the port’s image and enabled us to attract other companies that sell and export minerals.
Q: What challenges has the Port of Guaymas faced, considering the rapid expansion of the mining sector in Sonora?
A: The port’s infrastructure has not changed much in the past 20 years, so we do not have modern systems to help us prevent the bottlenecks that are common in the reception of bulk minerals. We are aiming at receiving larger shipments that will increase the port’s revenues. However, in order to receive shipments with larger volumes of minerals, we have to update our capacity first. The growth of the mining industry has been such that we were not able to adapt accordingly. In the last year, we exceeded our storage capacity and we have also witnessed certain inefficiencies in the railway reception of bulk minerals. This is the reason why process automation is a priority for us moving forward, as we want to provide more certainty to our clients. Improving on process automation would have a direct impact on our clients’ operations as, it would increase their productivity. To attract new clients, we need to eliminate bottlenecks created by the increase of commercial cargo. We are entering an expansion project to expand the connection bay, which will essentially double our current capacity. Having 67 hectares for storage will allow us to handle 15 million tonnes of minerals and other cargo in addition to the 8 million tonnes we can already handle. Fortunately, the federal government has given the port more attention, and we will soon be able to overcome our infrastructure and technology shortcomings because of the financial aid we will receive.
Q: What are the main pillars of the port’s competitiveness today?
A: The Port of Guaymas has 67 hectares from which ten terminals serve hundreds of clients, including top tiers like CEMEX and Grupo Mexico. The port has eight hectares fully dedicated to the storage of bulk minerals as well as six docking positions that enable us to be a multipurpose port. We see ships with capacities ranging from 20,000- 80,000 tonnes enter our port, which is possible due to the water being 16m deep. Ferromex and Union Pacific are two of our closest allies as they are greatly responsible for the port’s connectivity. Because of these two companies, mineral products can be loaded and unloaded right on our doorstep. Our capacities were noticed abroad, thus we went from moving 100,000 tonnes coming from the southern US to commercializing over 1 million tonnes.