Rotterdam port cargo volumes rise 3.2 pct in first half
* Rise in cargo on improved Dutch, German exports
* Full-year throughput to rise 1 percent
AMSTERDAM Aug 22 (Reuters) - Rotterdam port, Europe's biggest, said on Wednesday first-half cargo volumes rose a better-than-expected 3.2 percent to 222 million tonnes, driven by Dutch and German exports, and reiterated its forecast for full-year growth of 1 percent.
"Container throughput is benefiting from the good export performance of Dutch and German industry," Port of Rotterdam Authority chief executive Hans Smits said, adding that an increase in the refining and handling of crude oil and oil products also helped the volumes grow.
Throughput of liquid bulk rose 10.6 percent to 107.5 million tonnes, with mineral oil products up 13.8 percent to 39.9 million tonnes, partly because there were no maintenance shutdowns during the first six months whereas there had been two major shutdowns in the same period a year ago.
Rotterdam also benefited because production capacity elsewhere in Europe fell due to the temporary closure of refineries, the port said in a statement.
Other liquid bulk - including chemical products, vegetable oils and fats, and fruit juices - rose 5.6 percent to 16.8 million tonnes due to rising palm oil imports for Neste Oil's biodiesel plant which has a total capacity of 800,000 tonnes and is the biggest in Europe.
Total throughput of dry bulk fell 8.7 percent to 39.4 million tonnes, with grains, seeds and animal feed ingredient cargoes down 10.5 percent to 4.1 million tonnes as customers used stocks to alleviate the effects of surging prices.
Throughput of coal rose 1.9 percent to 12.9 million tonnes after a coke mine in Germany was closed, while throughput of ores and scrap fell 15.1 percent to 16.4 million tonnes.
"The production of raw steel is falling due to a decrease in demand as a result of the ailing economy," the port said in a statement.
Rotterdam, a major transit point for commodities, including oil and grains and manufactured goods, is also the biggest port for iron ore for the German blast furnaces in the Ruhr region which supply the German auto industry. (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)
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