Richards Bay, South Africa — 29 August 2013 – Africa’s biggest coal export port “’ Richards Bay “’ is to be expanded in a US$192 million investment specially designed to help smaller South African mining companies send their coal output abroad.

Fin24 reports that shipping and logistics group Grindrod is forming a joint venture (JV) with investment group RBT Resources to expand its Navitrade terminal at Richards Bay, on the east coast of South Africa. The existing capacity at RFichards Bay is mostly used by the major mining groups.

Under the plan, Grindrod’s Navitrade terminal, which has a capacity of 3Mtpa, will be upgraded to handle 20Mtpa as it prepares to open up capacity for new entrants.

“The market focus of the JV is to service broad-based black economic empowerment mining companies, including junior miners, by providing them commodity export capacity “’ a facet of their businesses that is currently very challenging,” said Dave Rennie, chief executive of Grindrod Freight Services, in an emailed response.

Richards Bay Coal Terminal, the largest coal export facility on the continent, handles output from major established mining companies, and would-be exporters have complained it is difficult to acquire slots from its owners, which include Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Exxaro and Glencore Xstrata.

The terminal, with a maximum design capacity of 91Mtpa, is on track to top 70Mtpa this year, up from 68.3Mtpa in 2012, according to an official.  

Rennie said another key component of the JV would be to develop an inland coal hub, allowing junior miners the chance to consolidate their volume in such a way that those with low volume production could also access export markets.

Grindrod will have a 49.9% stake in the JV and RBT will hold 50.1%.

RBT commercial director Thabiso Buku says the cost of developing the fully mechanised coal export terminal would be in excess of US$192 million (R2 billion).

“We expect to break ground in the first quarter of 2014 and ramp up to 20Mtpa over the next three to five years on a phased basis,” Buku said.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.