MPT (Mormugao Port Trust), Goa one of the oldest ports on the west coast of India, with a fine natural harbour, has been relentlessly serving the nation in its economic development for over a century. The Port was declared a Major Port on 2.12.1963. Mormugao Port, Goa is the premier iron ore exporting Port of India with an annual throughput of around 50.02 million tonnes of traffic. Though ore is the predominant cargo, there has been a steady increase in liquid bulk and general cargo traffic ever since its joining the ranks of the Major Ports of India. Excellent facilities, high productivity, streamlined administration and a dedicated workforce all go towards making this Port one of the most efficient Port in the Indian subcontinent.
At the time of its commissioning in 1888, the Mormugao Port comprised of 3 berths along with a breakwater having a length of 358 meters. As the years rolled by, the infrastructure slowly kept growing. By 1922, Berths 4 and 5 were built and the breakwater was extended to its present length of 522.40 meters. A mole of 270 meters was added.
With the emergence of mining as a major industry in Goa, a Master Plan was evolved by the Portuguese for the development of Mormugao Port as an iron ore terminal, envisaging "dedicated berth fitted with Mechanical Ore Loading Plants, provided and financed by various iron ore exporters." In accordance with this, in 1959 M/s Chowgule & Co. Pvt. Ltd., was permitted to set up Asia's very first Mechanical Ore Handling Plant at Berth No.6, with a capacity of 1000 tph. Berth 7 was constructed as an adjunct to it. The Liberation of Goa on December 19, 1961 marked the end of an epoch in Goan history.
Mormugao Port, went through a fair amount of change as the emphasis shifted to development of infrastructure. A couple of years after liberation, the port was delinked from the Railway management. The main railway section from Vasco da Gama to the border of Goa was transferred to the Southern Railways. The Port however, operated its own railway system between Vasco da Gama interchange point and the harbour area.
From 1948 onwards the iron ore traffic gained importance. The Japanese were rebuilding their nation and Goan iron ore was fated to play a key role in the Japanese industrial renaissance. Japan preferred Goan Iron ore for its expanding steel industry on account of price consideration and other logistics. The Port of Mormugao was now poised for a dramatic growth. It would no more be a sleepy port importing table wines from Portugal and exporting oil cakes from Hubli.
Others avenues had earlier been opened by enterprising foreigners. Josephine Hougaz was one such an ethnic Syrian holding a US passport. She introduced Goan cashew nuts to American chocolate makers. Wall Street had crashed. The year was 1929,for almonds and walnuts, until then the preferred fillings for
American chocolate and pastry makers, had reached levels that were beyond most of their consumers. But cashew nuts, though subject to considerable sea freight additional for importers, were in comparison cheap but nutritious and tasty American confectioners took to Goan cashew nuts in the year of the wall street crash.
The exploitation of iron ore mines in Goa on a commercial scale since 1947, brought about revolutionary changes in the pattern of Mormugao Port traffic. The level of traffic at the port rose to over 2.78 lakhs tonnes in the year 1953. In the years that followed, the traffic grew by leaps and bounds reaching the mark of 6.4 lakh to 14.8 million tonnes in 1973-74. Today, the iron exported through Mormugao constitutes 39 per cent of the total iron ore exports from India, and the port occupies a prestigious position amongst the Major Ports of the country.
The growth of traffic accentuated the inadequacy of the available port facilities but it offered new opportunities to daring entrepreneurs. In 1959, Chowgule & Co. Pvt. Ltd., obtained a concession from the Portuguese government and set up a Mechanical Ore Handling Plant with a handling capacity of 10,000 tonnes per day. The growth of trafficaccentuated the inadequacy of the available port facilities but it offered new opportunities to daring entrepreneurs. In 1959, Chowgule & Co. Pvt. Ltd., obtained a concession from the Portuguese government and set up a Mechanical Ore Handling Plant with a handling capacity of 10,000 tonnes per day. It was, it is claimed, the first of its kind in Asia.
The declaration of Mormugao as a Major Port in 1964 was a milestone in the annals of its history as it joined the ranks of the country's ten major Ports. The Port administration could now embark upon a sustained development programme as its newly formed Board of Trustees was empowered to take major decisions financial or otherwise.
With the rise of Brazil and Australia in recent times as aggressive ore exporters, the mineral ore industry today was seeing a sea of changes in iron ore market.