The Red Sea state of Djibouti on Thursday launched a sea port whose main function will be the export of salt, the BBC has reported.

The China-funded facility which cost $64m will exclusively export salt from Lake Assal – located in central western Djibouti.

It is expected to handle about six million tonnes of salt each year. The sea port will also benefit regional economic powerhouse, Ethiopia, as it is expected to facilitate the export of minerals from the landlocked neighbour.

The facility becomes the seventh sea port to be launched in the country and it further underlines Sino-Djibouti economic relations. The most recent cooperation led to the opening of a 690 hectare mega port with world-class facilities and equipment manufactured by a Chinese firm.

The $590 million Doraleh Multipurpose Port project which started in 2015 was jointly financed by Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA) and China Merchant Holding (CMHC) to connect Asia, Africa and Europe.

A statement by the port authority said it is one of four new ports in the Horn of Africa nation co-funded by China to establish Africa’s largest free-trade zone that can handle $7 billion of goods every year.