Impala eyeing global shipping

Impala Warehousing, owned by Trafigura Group, of The Netherlands, has poured $250 million into redevelopment of its Burnside Terminal in Ascension Parish, officials said Tuesday.

Now, Impala is poised to begin storing and shipping coal and other commodities on a global scale in either late April or early May, said Randy Comeaux, terminal manager.

Impala Warehousing acquired the 1,238-acre site from Ormet in 2011 and has been installing new equipment and constructing new facilities since then.

More than a dozen contractors have employed between 350 and 400 craftsmen at the site over the past three years.

Comeaux said 77 Impala employees — 73 hired from Louisiana — already work full time at the terminal. He said the number of full-time employees will grow to 117.

He added the total annual payroll would then range between $9 million and $10 million.

“We want to be a responsible operator and a good member of the community,” Comeaux added. “We try to buy as many goods from our local market as possible.”

The terminal manager said those purchases include everything from safety supplies and fuel to work gloves and paper products, as well as other office supplies.

Testing of inbound commodities equipment begins late this month, Comeaux said, and outbound equipment tests start in late March.

By late April or early May, Comeaux said, bargeloads of coal will arrive at the terminal’s 1,100-foot-long dock for stockpiling at the facility. That coal later will be conveyed to oceangoing vessels and transported to Europe and other locations throughout the world.

Impala’s dock can accommodate vessels that are nearly 900 feet in length, according to written materials supplied by Comeaux. Those documents also show the terminal can store as many as 600,000 tons of coal or other commodities.

“It’s a brand new system. The technology we have is state of the art,” Comeaux noted after providing materials showing the terminal can load 8,000 tons of coal per hour into a dockside ship at peak capacity.

Other equipment is capable of unloading 5,000 tons per hour from a dockside barge at peak capacity.

In addition to coal, Comeaux said, the Burnside terminal can store bauxite and other materials used in the manufacture of aluminum.

Impala Warehousing owns and operates more than 50 terminals in more than 30 countries, according to parent company Trafigura’s website.

Trafigura reported its net profit for the year ended Sept. 30 was $2.18 billion, 117 percent increase over the $1 billion reported a year earlier.