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Transnet plans its own coal export terminal

Coal from
Mpumalanga arriving
at the existing
Richards Bay
Durban, South Africa — 26 November 2012 South African logistics group Transnet is planning to build its own coal terminal at Richards Bay in an effort to break the export stranglehold of major miners and open up capacity for new market entrants. The existing Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), the world’s largest coal export facility, handles output from established major mining companies.

Reuters reports, however, that would-be exporters complain it is difficult to acquire capacity from the owners, which include Anglo American, BHP Billiton , Xstrata, Exxaro and Glencore.

“Transnet is busy investigating an open-access coal terminal for the unlocking of emerging or junior miners in the coal industry,” said Sudesh Maharaj, programme director for Transnet’s Richards Bay port expansion projects. “This is mainly due to the situation that we have had up to now, where smaller miners can’t mine until there is export capacity.”

He told Reuters that state-owned Transnet planned to build a terminal capable of exporting 14Mtpa ,which could be expanded to 32Mtpa when required.

The facility could begin exporting by mid-2020 if approved by the Transnet board and would be able to stockpile four to eight grades of coal.

“It has started as being a Transnet-driven initiative and once marine infrastructure was in place, a private operator may be sought through the company’s procurement processes," Maharaj said on the sidelines of an African ports conference.

Maharaj said the new coal terminal would be developed alongside an expansion of the port’s general freight terminals, which are operating at near full capacity of 24Mtpa. Besides its main commodity coal, Richards Bay also handles liquids and dry bulk as well as minerals including chrome, ferrochrome, magnetite and ferromanganese and other break-bulk commodities. For more information, click here