POINT MACKENZIE — If all has proceeded according to plan, by the time you read this, 8,000 tons of Alaska scrap metal will be on its way to Asia.
Also riding on that ship — set to depart Port MacKenzie Thursday night as of press time — will be the dreams of a local scrap metal merchant and his investors who believe the shipment will prove the viability of their venture.
“So many companies in the past 50 years tried to export scrap metal from here to the international market and failed,” said Sayed Hussain, a managing partner of Tri Metal International LLC. “I have opened the door that is going to bring a lot of international market buyers to come here and invest money here.”
The ship — named Billesborg, flagged out of Singapore and Chinese-built, only a year old with onboard cranes it can use to load itself — docked at Port MacKenzie Nov. 8.
The scrap came from all over the state. The Mat-Su Borough notes the materials include two Fairbanks gold dredges, a barge from a company in the Knik-Goose Bay area and 11 fishing boats from Seward weighing 200 to 300 tons each were cut up and loaded onto the ship.
Borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan said scrap ships have docked at Port MacKenzie before, but those were headed to Seattle. The difference here is that the Billesborg is destined directly for the Asian market, which shaves 10 days off of the trip.
Hussain said this is what he’s proving with this shipment — that the metal doesn’t need to go through Seattle first. It can be loaded in Alaska and sold in Asia.
It’s been a difficult thing to prove, he said. Competition from established scrap merchants in the Lower 48 — the ones that were buying Alaska’s scrap for sale in Asia — has been cutthroat. He’s losing money on this shipment, he said, but the money isn’t the point quite yet.
“We worked very hard and we made this thing possible,” he said, adding that his part in the project took him two and a half years. “We want to prove to Alaska that we can do it and prove to the international metal market that Alaska can ship directly.”
Eventually, Hussain said he thinks he could send 50,000 to 100,000 tons of scrap out of the port here each year. He said he’s in talks with companies on the North Slope to possibly remove steel there and with a company in Fairbanks to raze a derelict tank farm. There’s also mining equipment to be recalimed through the Bureau of Land Management.
Saturday international buyers visited Port MacKenzie’s docks and were very pleased, the borough said. They included 40-year scrap industry veteran and president of Takahashi Co-Limited Masaharu Takahashi of Japan; Adeel Ko Ansari, chief operating officer with Shin Chuo KK, a Japanese firm; and Ricky Kim, manager of Kolon Global Corp. of South Korea.
The borough said ice was not a problem for the Billesborg. Acting facility safety officer at the port, Emerson Krueger, said the borough landed $30,000 in docking and wharfage fees through the venture.
The borough says the scrap shipping project created a “few dozen” local jobs.
Singapore flagged Billesborg at Port MacKenzie since Nov. 8, is loading scrap steel for export to South Korea.
PHOTO: Patty Sullivan/MSB
A new international export for Alaska is moving across the docks at Port MacKenzie and drawing the interest of global buyers from Japan and South Korea.
A ship, flagged from Singapore, has been at Port MacKenzie since last Thursday, (Nov.8) loading some 8,000 tons of scrap steel, bound for South Korea.
Two gold dredges from Fairbanks, a local barge, and 11, 200-300-ton fishing boats from Seward were cut up previously and loaded among the cargo.
The effort is a test shipment to see if Alaska can export the product directly to South Korea. Presently scrap exports go straight to Seattle. By exporting directly from Alaska to Asia the shipping time is reduced by some 10 days, reducing transport costs.
Working on the effort nearly 2.5 years, Syed Hussain is a managing partner of Tri Metal International LLC. Two international buyers of scrap metal for Japan and South Korea traveled to Port MacKenzie Saturday to observe the loading effort, and were very pleased, Hussain said. Breaking into the global competition has had its hurdles, he said. He said he is losing money on this shipment just to prove to the scrap industry that it can be done.
The global buyers visiting the dock Saturday include:
Masaharu Takahashi, President of Takahashi Co-Limited from Japan. Takahasi has been in the scrap business for 40 years and recently formed a new company.
Adeel Ko Ansari, Chief Operating Officer, of Shin Chuo KK, Japan, a Japanese used-vehicle trading company.
Ricky Kim, Manager Kolon Global Corporation Co., Ltd, of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, a heavy and civil engineering construction firm with some 1,363 employees,
Six months ago a representative visited the scrap yard from Marubeni, Corporation, of Tokyo, Japan, one of the largest general trading companies in Japan, Hussein said.
He projects exporting 50,000 to 100,000 metric tons of scrap metal a year through Port MacKenzie. His company has been working with Prudhoe Bay contractors for removal of steel from the North Slope, as well as the removal of a derelict tank farm in Fairbanks. The company is also pursuing abandoned mining equipment and machinery via the Bureau of Land Management.
The ship is called Billesborg, a vessel with two cranes capable of 100-ton lifts each. The bright red ship was built recently in 2011 in China.
Ice presented no problems for the 450-foot ship tied up at the deep draft dock as crews worked round the clock.
“The ice of Cook Inlet presents some challenge to the efficiency at Port MacKenzie but absolutely no challenge to the operation of the Port,” said Emerson Krueger, Acting Facility Security Officer with the Borough.
Krueger said the dockage and wharfage fees generated for the Borough amount to some $30,000. A few dozen local jobs were created. The ship is expected to leave tonight, Nov. 15, and head to South Korea.