Continued economic growth could lead Chile's port infrastructure to reach its maximum capacity by 2014, transport and telecommunications minister (MTT) Felipe Morande told BNamericas.
Studies have shown that cargo handling demand increases two percentage points for every percentage point of economic growth, said Morande.
The Chilean economy is predicted to grow by 5% in 2010 and 6% in 2011, which means port activity should see an increase of between 10% and 12%.
Authorities are currently working to evaluate the country's options for future port expansion and development projects. Despite Chile's long coastline, protected sea areas are limited, which means a thorough analysis of these projects will be necessary, according to Morande.
For now, MTT expect tenders to concession new terminals in central ports Valparaiso and San Antonio to attract a number of bidders with competitive offers, Morande said.
Bids will be presented in December for the Valparaiso project, which involves building a new terminal to expand the port's capacity by 8Mt/y.
The US$280mn San Antonio project involves concessioning the Costanera Espigon terminal, increasing capacity at the port to 1mn TEUS/y. The concession is scheduled to be awarded in 1Q11.
Private port initiatives including a new terminal in region IV are also currently under evaluation, the minister said.