Peel Ports expects 12.5% growth in the amount of cargo passing through Runcorn Docks this year after it recorded its highest monthly volume of freight in 25 years and biggest ever ship in December 2014, moving 50,126 tonnes of cargo.
Over the past 12 months, tonnage handled by the port has increased by 48% from 275,978t in 2013 to 408,636t last year. Runcorn is forecast to handle around 460,000t of cargo this year.
The port primarily handles dry bulk cargo such as soda ash, anhydrite, sodium sulphate, sand and cement.
Last month also saw the port handle its biggest ever single shipment of cargo, with the arrival of vessel Kristin C, pictured, which discharged 6,212 tonnes of soda ash from Turkey for its customer Newport Industries. The ash will be used to manufacture glass.
Peel Ports Group has invested more than £3.4m in improvements to facilities at Runcorn Docks in the last five years, including the renovation and development of its warehousing capabilities and the introduction of two new Liebherr material handler cranes.
In recent years Peel Ports has developed the Manchester Ship Canal as an alternative to road freight and to increase capacity in anticipation of its new £300m deep-water dock known as Liverpool 2, which is due to open in December 2015, doubling the capacity at the Port of Liverpool by allowing it to handle bigger ships.
David Huck, port director at Peel Ports Group, said: "Year on year we are seeing continued growth at Runcorn Docks. The fact that we have just witnessed the best month in terms of cargo tonnage in the last 25 years and welcomed the largest cargo ship in the history of the port shows that it is fast becoming a significant port of call along the Manchester Ship Canal.
"These record breaking figures reflect the benefits of our continued investment into the quayside facilities at Runcorn and gives us a positive outlook for the future.
"Trade along the Manchester Ship Canal continues to grow, as customers are becoming more aware of the advantages of this direct link to the industrial heartland of the UK.
"Peel Ports' strategic port locations mean that we not only offer the best solution for importing and exporting goods, but we also provide the quickest and most efficient routes to market."
Graham Goodall, business development manager at Francis Flower, who use Peel Ports' Runcorn Docks to transport dry bulk minerals, said: "At Francis Flower we have a long association with Peel Ports' Runcorn Dock facility and we have always received excellent service in all aspects of the work undertaken for us."