Containers on the ship

Logistical challenges of equipment shipping from Colombia



Story of importing MFPS equipment from South America to Central Asia

For a landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China, importing to Mongolia has always been challenging. High shipping cost increases the prices of goods and services hence visitors to the country often find prices expensive. In addition to this geographical distinction, imagine the impact of the pandemic that up-ended global supply chains and logistics for the last three years.

So, here is the story of importing mercury-free processing system (MFPS) equipment from South America to Central Asia. It outlines the challenges of overseeing international logistics management at the best of times, compounded by the intersecting challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a local strike in Colombia, and a complex international incident involving Russia, Ukraine, NATO, and ensuing sanctions.

planetGOLD Mongolia project ordered a set of gold ore processing equipment from a vendor in Colombia in March 2021 and the manufacturing was completed the following month. In the meantime, the planetGOLD Mongolia project started to work with a local freight forwarder, Landbridge LLC. The Landbridge LLC started the shipping process by proposing the fastest route between Colombia and Mongolia: from Buenaventura, Colombia to Tianjin, China to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The challenge, however, started in Colombia with an unexpected nationwide strike that shut down the roads and ports. There was nothing the project could do until the strike was over.

The strike delayed the shipping for 3 months until a new challenge arose at the port of Tianjin, where almost all shipments to Mongolia pass through. China suspended its shipping to Mongolia starting from August 2021 for an indefinite period due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the result was that thousands of containers were stalled at the port.

Congestion at the Tianjin port
Congestion at the Tianjin port. Photo credit:
International logistics crisis in China
Containerships and tankers at Chinese ports. Photo credit: MarineTraffic

As the route through Tianjin became increasingly unavailable, Landbridge found an alternative route through Latvia, where the shipment would then be transported overland through Russia to arrive in Mongolia. The project accepted the new route and Landbridge LLC initiated the shipping process by preparing official export documents which take some time to be completed.

Just as the shipment was to be initiated, Russia invades Ukraine in March 2022. Many restrictions and sanctions were placed on Russia. These restrictions made the equipment shipment through the Latvia route extremely risky.

Hence, the team acted by switching back to the Tianjin option, even though the huge congestion issue persisted but the shipping restrictions to Mongolia were slowly improving.

Finally, the equipment departed from Buenaventura, Colombia on June 26, 2022. It arrived in Tianjin on August 14 and was immediately put on the waiting list for further shipping to Mongolia. A month passed until the equipment was put on a train to Mongolia and our long-awaited equipment arrived in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in October 2022. Upon its arrival, the import customs clearance was conducted by Landbridge LLC agent and the project team. As soon as the equipment was cleared at the customs, It was then shipped to Mandal soum of Selenge province.

Colombian equipment
Project MFPS equipment right after opening the container. Photo credit: pG Mongolia project
Colombian equipment in the container
Project MFPS equipment right after opening the container. Photo credit: pG Mongolia project
MFPS equipment on the truck to Mandal
Project MFPS equipment on the way to Mandal soum of Selenge province. Photo credit: pG Mongolia project

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