Port of Lázaro Cárdenas

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The Port of Lázaro Cárdenas is in Michoacán, Mexico. It the largest Mexican seaport and one of the largest seaports in the Pacific Ocean basin, with an annual traffic capacity of over 30 million tonnes of cargo and 2,200,000 TEU's. The terminal has an annual coal capacity of 5.4 million tonnes.[1]

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Project Details

  • Operator: TPP (Terminales Portuarias del Pacífico)[2]
  • Location: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, México[2]
  • Coal Capacity (Million tonnes per annum): 5.4
  • Status: Operating (possible expansion)
  • Type: Imports[2]
  • Source of Coal: Colombia[2][3], Australia, Canada, United States[3]


Lázaro Cárdenas is home to a deep-water seaport that handles container, dry bulk, and liquid cargo. In February 2019 the port had five public and four private terminals.[4] Private terminals in the Puerto de Lázaro Cárdenas handle minerals, fluids, coal, and fertilizers.[5]

The 2020-2025 Master Plan for the port was updated in February 2021. The master plan notes that the terminal specialized in coal is assigned to the Federal Commission of Electricity (C005), with zone code 14PaE, registration number APILAZ01-005/97.M2, and a valid contract for the CFE from April 8, 1997 to April 8, 2030.[6] In 2019, the port was dubbed a "super port" by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs because of it's size and economic impact.[4] Between 2013-2019 the port received approximately €471 million in investments for terminal developments.[4] Lázaro Cárdenas received additional upgrades in 2020.[7] The port handled 160,000 TEU's unit in 2005 but is expanding to a capacity of 2.2 million TEU annually.[8] Developments continue to be made to the port and by 2030 the anticipated capacity if 4.1 million TEU.[4]


Cargo moves to and from the port by road and rail equally, with rail service provided exclusively by Kansas City Southern Railway. In April 2021, those serviced by KCS Railway, including Lázaro Cárdenas Port, expressed support for a merger between KCS and Canadian Pacific Rail which could be completed by 2022 if approved by shareholders.[9] The port has a logistics coal transport storage system based in Michoacán and Guerrero states.[10]

Carbonser operates a coal import terminal at the port capable of receiving vessels of up to 150,000 tons, with a 355-meter-long pier, a draft of 16.5 meters, and coal storage capacity of 1.9 million tonnes. Coal unloaded here is used to fuel the Petacalco power station.[2][11]

The port is expected to become a major container facility due to congestion at the U.S. ports of Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach and its relative proximity to major cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, Missouri, and Houston. In preparation for the port's increased capacity, railway and highway infrastructure running north-south through the center of Mexico has been upgraded in recent years to handle the anticipated increase in volume of goods bound for the United States using this transportation corridor.[8] If a proposed government-backed Pacific port is built at Punta Colonet, Baja California, goods flowing to US states like Arizona and Nevada could bypass the congested Los Angeles region with closer access to those markets, providing increased competition with Lázaro Cárdenas.[8] The Port of Lázaro Cárdenas has also been considered as a possible shipping point for coal exports from the US Powder River Basin. However, coal would have to be switched to US railway lines, and then to the Ferromex rail line at the US-Mexico border, adding switching fees to the transportation costs.[12]

In July 2020, a shipment of cocaine bricks was discovered among a coal shipment from Colombia on the ES Jupiter (operating under Panamanian flag) in cooperation with the Mexican Navy and border officials of the Port.[13]


In 2008, the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas handled 20,860,647 tonnes of cargo and 524,791 (TEU), making the busiest port in Mexico and one of the largest container ports in the country.

General statistics between 2004 - 2008
Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
RoRo (nr of automobiles) 0 24,923 88,669 114,276 112,457
Liquid bulk* 932,000 919,000 1,281,000 1,841,000 2,275,000
Dry bulk* 10,165,000 12,940,000 13,895,000 11,234,000 5,804,000
Break bulk* 2,910,000 2,785,000 2,587,000 2,719,000 1,809,000
Twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU's) 43,445 132,479 160,696 270,240 524,791
Intermodal container* 323,000 1,030,000 1,159,000 1,544,000 4,240,000
Total*' 14,330,000 17,674,000 18,992,000 17,693,000 20,860,647
* figures in tonnes
General statistics between 2009 - 2017[14]
Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU's) 591,467 796,023 953,497 1,242,777 1,051,183 996,654 1,058,747 1,115,452 1,149,079
Total tonnes of cargo *' 19,983,520 27,827,624 29,653,152 30,671,994 32,769,610 28,189,486 26,437,913 27,086,385 29,791,045



  1. "Major N. American coal ports," Platts, accessed February 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "CFE inicia importación de carbón por puerto Lázaro Cárdenas". energy21.com.mx. May 6, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Diego Badillo (June 13, 2020). "Central carboeléctrica de Petacalco: la bonanza hecha cenizas". El Economista.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Teodosijevic, Marko (2019). "Opportunities for Port Development and Maritime sector in Mexico" (PDF). Embassy of the Netherlands in Mexico.
  5. "Puerto de Lazaro Cardenas" World Port Source, accessed August 29, 2011.
  6. "Programa Maestro de Desarrollo Portuario Puerto Lázaro Cárdenas 2020-2025" (PDF). Administración Portuaria. February 19, 2021.
  7. "BNamericas - Spotlight: The outlook for Mexico's port inf..." BNamericas.com. Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "About the Port" (in spanish). 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-29.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  9. "More shippers voice support of CP-KCS merger - FreightWaves". FreightWaves. 2021-04-06. Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  10. "Preview of Lazaro Cardenas Port Logistics Coal Transport Storage System | Transaction | IJGlobal". ijglobal.com. Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  11. "Terminal de Carbón del Puerto Lázaro Cárdenas Presenta un Incremento de Carga de 22% al mes de septiembre" Puerto de Lazaro Cardenas, November 3, 2017.
  12. Sylvie Cornot-Gandolphe “US Coal Exports: The Long Road to Asian Markets,” Oxford OIES PAPER: CL 2, March 2015
  13. "Mexican Authorities Seize Cocaine Smuggled in Coal on a Bulk Carrier". The Maritime Executive. Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  14. "Estadísticas" Administración Portuaria Integral de Lázaro Cárdenas website, accessed February 2018.

Related GEM.wiki articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Port of Lázaro Cárdenas. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.