The Port of Guaymas is impressive in this aerial shot, but it's set to get even bigger, reaching neighboring Empalme.


Now the fastest-growing seaport in Mexico, the Port of Guaymas is capitalizing on its newfound attention with plans for a massive expansion.

Saying the Sonoran port is no longer the "ugly duck in the Mexican port family," officials from Guaymas were in Tucson Wednesday to discuss the recent addition of container cargo and the plans for growth.

The specifics of the expansion will be announced by Mexican President Felipe Calderón's administration in coming weeks, but the port's marketing director, Guillermo Von Borstel Osuna, said the project will extend the port into the bay between Guaymas and neighboring Empalme.

Dredging of the seafloor is scheduled to begin by year's end, he told members of the Southern Arizona Logistics Education Organization (SALEO) a day after meeting with officials from Maricopa County.

Von Borstel said the Mexican government will fund the expansion, but future terminals for minerals, oil, coal and grains will be leased to private companies.

Two Arizona copper mine project officials are exploring the use of Guaymas for exporting copper concentrate, he said. Rosemont Copper and Resolution Copper are both in talks with Sonora.

"It's exciting to see what is happening at the Port of Guaymas," said Al Altuna, a founding member of SALEO. "It's especially exciting for us … geographically."

A turning point for the port came in October 2008, when it received its first cruise ship. Dozens of cruise lines have since signed on to sail the Gulf of California.

Then in February, the Port of Guaymas entered into a partnership with Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company Guaymas to import and export container cargo.

MSC is the second-largest container carrier in the world and sails to 341 ports worldwide.

Arizona has long seen Guaymas as a logical seaport for imports and exports because of its proximity to the border and access to the railroad and Interstate 10.

Expansion of the Mariposa Port of Entry - the commercial port in Nogales - is under way and scheduled to be complete in 2014 with 21 lanes and additional inspection booths.

Contact Gabriela Rico at or 573-4232.