Richards Bay, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 June 2010 – Stockpiles at South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) “’ the world’s biggest export facility for the fuel “’ fell to their lowest level in almost two-and-a-half years as strike action and maintenance operations disrupted rail deliveries.
Inventories were 2.04 million metric tonnes at the end of May, according to latest data on the terminal’s website. That was less than half the 4.62 million tonnes on hand at the end of April, and the least since the 1.16 million tonnes stockpiled in December 2007. The terminal can store 8.2 million tonnes of coal and export 91 million tonnes of the fuel a year.
Rail lines to the port on South Africa’s north-eastern coast were scheduled to be shut for maintenance from May 10 to May 19. Deliveries were further cut by the 18-day national port and rail strike that ended on May 28. The terminal was able to handle some export during the strike because it is privately owned by mining companies including Anglo American Plc.
RBCT exported 4.57 million tonnes of coal in May, up from April’s 3.91 million tonnes and 22% more than a year earlier.
Rail deliveries to the port plunged to 1.95 million tonnes from 5.61 million tonnes in April. The number of trains arriving at the terminal slid to 201 from 755 in April. Fifty-two vessels were loaded, unchanged from the prior month.
At the shipment rate so far this year, the terminal will export 57.72 million tonnes of the fuel in 2010.