Holcim’s New Zealand’s maritime problems look to be over after Westport harbour was reopened yesterday for ships laden with cement. The harbour had been closed to cement ships for 48 days because of low harbour bar depths caused by a shortage of rainfall which meant Holcim was unable to ship cement from its Cape Foulwind works near Westport.
Holcim cement general manager Jeremy Smith today said tidal flows had removed some 70,000cu.m of sand and gravel at the rivermouth overnight early last week. Big seas meant although the bar was clear, ships could not get in until yesterday, when a medium size load of 1900t departed. Holcim was hopeful river flows would remain up, allowing the next cement ship to berth on Thursday.
The shipping woes forced Holcim to buy cement from rival Golden Bay Cement, which is owned by Fletcher Building. It had also sent cement by road to Nelson, or by rail to Christchurch. More recently, it moved entirely to the Nelson route and was importing to different ports.