The Big River Coalition has received a $250mn commitment to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50ft around the New Orleans region. The funds for the dredging project to begin were jointly assigned by Louisiana’s Governor Office, Louisiana Department of Transportation, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The Mississippi River commercially links 31 states between New Orleans and Minnesota and the deeper riverbed will allow larger vessels with heavier loads to travel within the southern ports. The deepening will benefit the Port of Baton Rouge, Port of South Louisiana, and Port of New Orleans. According to media reports, the dredging project in this phase is only for two sections within a 256-mile segment of the Lower Mississippi River from the Port of Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.
The work to reach a depth of 45-50ft could be completed by early 2024 and will allow bulk cargo vessels to carry full loads at river ports instead of smaller boats delivering partial loads to larger ships. The deeper channel will also benefit containers. The first phase will open 175 miles of the channel by the end of 2022.
The increased loading efficiency is expected to decrease shipping costs and increase the regions competitive advantage.
The deeper channels for the relevant New Orleans Louisiana Region will also benefit from the ability to process larger loads of finished steel exports and imports. Raw materials such as scrap, HBI, DRI, and pig iron used in steelmaking will also benefit from the improved options and lower shipping costs.