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Richards Bay aiming high

South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) has announced a record handling target for 2017, after a fall in 2016.

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The terminal exported 72.6 Mt last year, down 3.7% on the 2015 figure of 75.4 Mt, but it has set a goal of 77 Mt for this year. RBCT is certainly capable of reaching this figure, if there is sufficient demand and Transnet Freight Rail is able to maintain supplies. It recorded its highest ever monthly turnover of 8 Mt in November. Tianjin Heavy Steel Mechanical Equipment Company (TZME) is currently developing a new shiploader for the terminal.

RBCT CEO Alan Waller commented: “The true value of RBCT lies in the efficiency and reliability with which the terminal can move a tonne of coal.” Shipments to Asia accounted for 75% of throughput in 2016, up from 66% in 2015, which was in itself a record proportion. Shipments to Europe and Turkey comprised most of the terminal’s exports until six years ago, but the proportion fell to 12% in 2016, down from 19% in 2015. Mike Teke is to stand down as chairman of RBCT, although he will stay on the board as a non-executive director. He will be replaced by former CEO Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane.

In early February, Grindrod announced that it had begun to increase the handling capacity of RBT-Grindrod, the coal export terminal that it operates with RBT Resources at Richards Bay. The executive director of RBT-Grindrod Terminals, Bongani Biyela, said: “We have introduced the Laycan system, which is aimed at reducing demurrage costs. For the majority of the people I talk to about using BTGrindrod as an alternative to RBCT, the matter of demurrage costs is one of the most significant issues of concern for them. We do accept that it is a challenge that we have to address.” The company has
already secured the same rail transport for its customers as those moving coal to RBCT.

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