A fire at Transnet’s bulk terminal may further delay SA coal shipments

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Reuters reports that a fire at Transnet’s government-owned Richards Bay Bulk Terminal, which handles South Africa’s thermal coal exports, may lead to more disruptions.

A Transnet statement that stated the firm had declared a force majeure. According to the report, the port’s conveying system was damaged by the fire, which broke out on Wednesday. However, Transnet did not specify if or how much this would affect the export of raw materials like coal and steel.

While certain lines are still operating, the terminal works with impacted clients and puts emergency plans in place. This fire has a mysterious origin, and a preliminary inquiry is being conducted to determine what set it off. Experts and investigators are on-site to decide on the full scope of the damage.

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Due to copper wire theft and vandalism on the Limpopo to Richards Bay train line and absenteeism linked to Covid-19, coal shipments were severely interrupted this year. The disruptions have enraged the country’s mining sector. A 30% drop in coal shipments from January to June was attributed to “one of the worst export rail performances for the sector” during the past six months, according to Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo.

Coal isn’t the only one affected by resource shortages. According to the Mining Ferrous Division CEO, Andre Joubert, Transnet’s performance in achieving operational and project goals has been unsustainably low. As of now, Transnet has a goal of increasing exports from 60 to 67 million tons per year, but we have yet to hit the 60Mt/year mark. Transnet’s long-term plan is to expand to 76 Mt, although the company has had that goal in mind for some time, he added.

Due to the many overruns and overspends, Transnet often fails to meet its investment goals and is eventually shelved.

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