EMO’s roots go back to the Waalhaven. It all started in 1954 at Pier 5 where Transport- en Handelmaatschappij Steenkolen Utrecht N.V. (SNV) and Manufrance N.V. began a cooperative venture. The idea of setting up a new bulk transhipment company was explored ten years later, inspired by the scaling-up trend taking place in the ship-owner and shipping industry.

At the time, people expected that in the near future, bigger ships would have problems reaching the available facilities. Participants were found to establish the desired company size and share the investment costs. Having explored several possible candidates, the remaining ones were SNV, Manufrance and Krupp.

At the same time, the German steel industry wanted to establish an iron ore transhipment company in Europoort (Ertsoverslagbedrijf Europoort) for their own supplies. Eventually three companies: Manufrance, SNV and Frans Swarttouw BV, jointly set up a bulk transshipment company at the Maasvlakte.


The Veering Overslagbedrijf Maasvlakte (VOM) was established on 5 December 1969. The participation percentages were divided as follows: 50% SHV, 30% Frans Swarttouw and 20% Manufrance. This project stalled for a long time since government decisions regarding definite zoning plans for the Maasvlakte failed to materialise. Despite this, preparations commenced and behind the scenes, a definite plan was drawn up in March 1971. At the time, the estimated costs were 80 million guilders.

The equipment consisted of:
• 2 unloaders, each with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes an hour
• Barge loaders, each with a capacity of 6,000 tonnes an hour
• 2 stacker-reclaimers, a transport conveyor belt system.
The terminal was eventually built along the Hartel canal, with a surface area of 65 hectares. Construction was completed in November 1973 when the first ship unloaded its cargo of 77,600 tonnes of iron ore.


The actual start-up took place not long after the company changed its name to Erts en Kolen Overslagbedrijf Maasvlakte (EKOM) BV. It began with talks about a cooperative venture with Overslag- en Opslagbedrijf Botlek BV. The positive attitude of the Botlek Works Council (Ondernemingsraad) and the Maasvlakte personnel liaison committee (Personeels-contactcommissie van de Maasvlakte) contributed towards the swift realisation of this cooperative venture. Consequently, EMO (Europees Massagoed- Overslagbedrijf BV) was established on 1 January 1975 as a cooperative venture, initially for a five-year period that later on was extended by two years. In this period EMO’s development was dynamic. We added a coal wagon loader facility and a third conveyor belt with a stacker-reclaimer and expanded the transport conveyor belt system. The highlight was the introduction of the largest unloader in the world (85 tonnes) in October 1981.


The company saw a remarkable growth of the workforce during the early years, from four members of staff in September 1971 to seven staff and 79 operations employees in November 1973 when VOM became operational. The workforce grew to meet company requirements in 1974. When EMO began in 1975, the workforce expanded to a full complement of 273 employees. To ensure enough labour for the continually growing facility, the employee numbers grew gradually from 313 to 356 between the years 1979 and 1981. The numbers of employees working at the Botlek and at the Maasvlakte were 154 and 201, respectively.

Further development

After the cooperative venture with Botlek BV, a new phase began for EMO on 1 January 1982. The company’s activities expanded with SNV-Waalhaven’s coal export service in 1984. The company also replaced its semi-continuous three-shift working schedule with a five full-time shifts. EMO improved its image worldwide (fast and trustworthy service every day of the week) by building a seagoing vessel loader for coal export and upgrading customer service. The workforce continued to grow and by 1986 EMO had 390 employees.

Koninklijke Frans Swarttouw (KFS) increased participation leads to EMO’s expansion [Important expansion]
Favourable developments in the steel industry and the growing supply of coal reinforced EMO’s market position. A regrouping of activities in the harbour took place in 1989. Koninklijke Frans Swarttouw (KFS) decided to increase its participation in EMO and further invest in this cooperative venture, instead of building its own terminal at the Maasvlakte.

This led to further expansion of EMO’s activities and machinery:
• Third barge loader, including conveyor belt system
• Fourth and fifth stacker-reclaimers, including conveyor belt system
• Fourth unloader (85 tonnes)
• An installation of six coal-blending silos.

The workforce grew to a total of 450 employees and by 1991, all the expansion described above had been achieved.
Recession The impact of economic recession in Western Europe affected EMO in the autumn of 1992. Coal and iron ore shipments dropped radically and meant, inevitably, that the workforce had to be downsized. Begin 1992, the size of the workforce was once again in proportion to the company’s activities.

Ups and downs

After this recession, the market got back on its feet. We achieved maximal capacity in 1996 and 1997, after which EMO decided to expand capacity by adding floating cranes. Supply and throughput grew again but then the 1998 steel industry crisis forced this market to stall up until 2000. The coal market shrank as well, due mainly to the liberalisation of the energy market.

In 2001 we expanded capacity again with the addition of a fourth berth, reflecting positive market developments. We obtained the first of a series ISO certificates in 2003. ISOs help us to optimise the company’s operational procedures so that customers receive the best possible service. They are also partly responsible for the great advances we have made in terms of safety and the environment. We fully automated the stacker-reclaimers as part of the company’s automation strategy. In 2006, the seventh stacker-reclaimer and a new fully automated coal wagon loader became operational.

Transshipment grew between 1998 and 2008, culminating in a record amount of 37 million tonnes shipped in 2008. Long-term expectations and the fact that companies nearby were investing in their own development triggered EMO to invest in a number of projects. However, the worldwide financial crisis at the close of 2008 ushered in a new period of trouble. In 2009 the steel industry collapsed and iron ore transshipment decreased by 70%. Whereas the transshipment of iron ore and coal decreased, the demand for storage increased dramatically. For the first time in EMO’s history, we made more profit from storage than from transshipment. Although transshipment in 2010 did not reach the record 2008 level, the 30 million tonnes that were transshipped in 2010 (13 million tonnes iron ore and 17 million tonnes coal) are a positive indication for the future. Even in a sustainable society, coal will continue to fulfil an important function in the future. Developments in efficiency, emissions and carbon capture storage (CCS) together with the growing demand for reliable energy make coal an indispensable source. EMO aims to play a role in the transshipment of biomass in the coming years.

2010- 2015 A reliable partner

During this period EMO has strongly invested in its storage and transshipment capacity and efficiency. This will ensure that we are fully equipped to enhance our safety, efficiency and sustainability performance, and to continue to serve our clients as a reliable partner in dry bulk transshipment in the coming decades.


  • 5 unloaders, 3 x 85 tons, 2 x 50 tons lifting capacity
  • 1 floating crane, 36 tons lifting capacity
  • 7 fully automated stacker reclaimers
  • 3 barge loaders
  • 1 sea ship loader
  • 3 fully automated coal wagon loaders, 2 for coal, 1 for iron ore
  • 160 ha stockyard
  • high tec operations centre

New plants Uniper and Engie in Rotterdam
In 2015, two new coal fired power plants became online. A new 1,070 MWe coal/biomass-fired power station is built by Uniper on a neighbouring site. Also a 800MWe coal/biomass-fired power station is built by Engie on the eastern section of the EMO site. Both of these ultramodern power stations are supplied by EMO.

EMO is ready for the future

EMO is one of the most advanced dry bulk terminals in the world. The majority of the work is automated, with a clear focus on people and the environment. We invest heavily in our site and our machines as well as in our personnel. A large proportion of the conveyor system was recently renewed. In this process, the number of drive motors and other components were massively reduced. The new drums and rollers have had a positive effect on noise emission levels. With these new conveyors, we are now in a position to monitor the noise levels ourselves and to intervene where necessary. As well as reducing noise emissions, other improvements include energy saving, reduced dust emission levels and the more sustainable use of materials. In the near future, EMO will be in position to cut back the speed of the conveyors, depending on the volume in transit. This too will have a positive effect on overall performance. Automation of one unloader has almost been completed, and plans are in place to repeat the process for all our unloaders. Automation projects are also in the pipeline for other machines. EMO is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, such as the silicon industry and biomass. We were recently responsible for handling the products HBI and PCI for our customers. EMO is ready to serve its customers as a reliable partner for decades to come.