Cape Town, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 21 July 2009 – Iron-ore exports through the Transnet Port Terminals iron-ore quay in Saldanha Bay have risen sharply in recent months despite the international economic downturn.
As with most other ports, exports through Saldanha have been affected by the financial meltdown since October last year, but from February to the present new highs of up to 4 million tonnes a month have been achieved.
Quay manager Ben Khonyane says 70 to 80% of the iron ore from the port’s clients “’ Kumba en Assmang “’ is destined for China, and some consignments intended for Europe have been diverted to China.
The presumption is that China is stockpiling at low prices for when the economy recovers.
Based on shipping reservations, Khonyane expects these volumes could rise to even 4.2 million or 4.5 million tonnes a month. He says South Africa has a very small market share in the international iron-ore market, but local iron ore is popular because of its high grade.
The iron-ore facilities have recently been upgraded to the tune of some R700 million so as to handle 47 million tonnes of iron ore a year. This includes the erection of a third terminal quay.
In the next phase, costing R500 million, the export capacity will be expanded to 58 million tonnes a year through better utilisation of existing equipment and improved design of certain systems. By February or March next year this phase will be complete.
Pre-feasibility studies have been done for a further phase to expand capacity to 78 million tonnes and then to 93 million tonnes a year.