The Richards Bay
Coal Terminal –
another delay
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 June 2009 – The Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) has announced that technical difficulties have delayed the completion of the project to expand its capacity to 91 million tonnes by a further three months to 1 October.

Making this announcement here, chief operations officer Raymond Chirwa revealed that contractors on the R1.2 billion project could work double shifts to ensure it was ready for commissioning in time for the new date. “On-site contractors will consider using additional resources to meet the extended commissioning date,” he said.

Chirwa said a risk assessment to establish the completion date showed that the Phase V expansion project to expand the 72 million-tonne terminal would not be ready by July 1 as expected. The delay was due to the contractors experiencing technical challenges with some equipment that had to be installed as part of the expansion project.

In December, Chirwa said the end of the project had been delayed by three months to July 1 due to technical difficulties.

He gave the assurance that there was enough coal in South Africa and enough demand to justify the expansion, at least through the next decade. The expansion would also cater for emerging black owned coal exporters.

The export terminal has been operating at less than its present capacity due to constraints on the rail network which transports the coal from the mines to the port.

Reuters reports that South Africa is one of the world’s major coal exporters, but that regular train derailments and delays along the Richards Bay coal line have dented business confidence in freight logistics group Transnet’s ability to meet international commitments.

Analysts say if Transnet does not deliver soon, the terminal could still be exporting around 60 million tonnes of coal despite the expanded export capacity.

RBCT shareholders include miners Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Xstrata, petrochemicals group Sasol and diversified mining group Exxaro.