Transnet has Big Plans for the Port of Richards Bay

01SK85-IM1001-richards-bay-1475The Port of Richards Bay is set to expand in a big way but not necessarily in the direction some would like. At a media briefing Transnet’s director of projects within the port Sudesh Maharaj announced that a R30bn Capex Plan for the port was being thrashed out.

The intention is to expand the country’s main bulk port up until 2020. Transnet is investing more than R15bn on immediate and medium to long term capacity improvement initiatives to expand and upgrade the Port of Richards Bay to ensure that the bulk port accommodates the growth in export demand.

Maharaj told the press briefing that Transnet commissioned a study in 2010 that projected demand for bulk export commodities through Richard’s Bay was expected to increase from the present throughput of 23 million tons per annum to a demand of about 50 million by 2040. Approximately 40 per cent of the volumes projected for 2040 are expected to be export coal, 25 per cent domestic coal and the balance general freight bulk.

The port is currently the location of the world’s biggest coal terminal, the privately owned Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT). Owners are Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Exxaro and Glencore. The terminal has a capacity to handle 91 million tons of coal a year.

The estimations are that a new terminal would be able to export 14 million tonnes annually, with the room to expand to 32 million. Currently operations are at near full capacity of 23 million tonnes a year.

R15bn was earmarked by Transnet on a new coal terminal for emerging mining companies that struggle to get access to RBCT. However Transnet was set to spend R15bn of the Capex on upgrading the general freight side of Richards Bay Port as well! This would include a container handling facility to handle approximately 100 000 TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers a year by 2020. Maharaj doesn’t believe there is any need for a dedicated container terminal, like the one at Durban. Maharaj points out that the port already has a container handling component. He believes that the general freight expansion will bring more than enough capacity at the port for container traffic and that there is no need for a dedicated container terminal.

The Zululand Chamber of Business has been calling for a dedicated container facility at the port. However Maharaj says Durban was the main container port which would be enhanced by the dig-out port, while Coege in the Eastern Cape was a future transhipment container port.

The projects are being undertaken as part of Transnet’s market demand Strategy (MDS) which has earmarked R300bn to capacity development projects over a 7 year period.

The Capex earmarked for Richard’s Bay was for the expansion and the replacement of equipment and for new infrastructure. Maharaj said there was a major reconfiguration planned for the Port. It included expanding the handling and offloading capacity of terminals, replacing redundant equipment, reconfiguring the Bayvue Rail Yard and building a proposed new open access coal terminal to unlock coal exports for emergent miners.

Transnet is approaching the construction process with scalability in mind so that the transition from the current port design to the expanded design is seamless. Of course time will tell as to how Transnet handles the process and to what degree the Port is disrupted.

The repercussions for Richard’s Bay in general are immense. Greater capacity for the port means increased flow of freight and containers not just coal. More storage space, increased warehousing as well has tertiary services will need to increase capacity too. Richard’s Bay commercial property should see a boom as the knock-on effect is felt from the activity at the port.
{Sources: Mercury; Ports.co.za;Transportworldafrica.co.za;Sturrockshipping.com}

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About Matthew Campaigne Scott

I'm a freelance writer and researcher. I have written for periodicals and websites, composed speeches and sermons and prepared copy for web advertisements and research papers. I can tailor my work according to your needs. I love a challenge and enjoy building work relationships.

Posted on June 18, 2013, in Commerce, Property, Webarticles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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