Mia Moorcroft
2 minute read
17 Apr 2015
6:00 am

New coal terminal on the cards for Richard’s Bay

Mia Moorcroft

Richard’s Bay port could become home to a third coal storage facility, with a short lifespan of seven years.

An aerial view of the port shows that the proposed terminal will be situated on the far left, behind berth 606. Pic: Supplied

The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has proposed 10 hectares of an undeveloped area along the harbour arterial road to build the temporary terminal in two phases, Zululand Observer reported.

Phase one will utilise 4.7 ha of the plot, and phase two will consist of 5.3 ha adjacent to berth 606.

It is expected to export between four and eight million tons of coal a year.

According to TNPA’s Basic Assessment Report (BAR), the 30m wide berth 606 will be the only operational area to load coal from the facility.

The site is already serviced with rail access via the under-utilised uMhlathuze rail yard.

Furthermore, road access to the site, electrical lines, water lines, storm water and sewerage networks will be linked to the existing networks in the port precinct.

Currently, the area is being used to store infill sand heaps from the port-dredging activities, but TNPA plans to push this material to one side to create a wind barrier and reduce wind speeds over the coal stockpiles.

TNPA said its motivation for the project was to increase cargo throughputs for new entry coal exporters.

“Although Richards Bay Coal Terminal’s (RBCT) coal export has a capacity of 91 MTPA, no allocation exists within the current RBCT arrangements to allow for new coal exporters, especially junior miners,” the authority said.

“This project aims to address this, although on a short-term basis. The proposed development of a coal export facility is one of the key strategic business development projects for the Port of Richards Bay.”

This application comes as a surprise, considering that only five months ago Transnet announced it would put off plans to build a new terminal, as an industry agreement was struck with the major players to provide extra capacity to junior miners.

Two years ago, Transnet CEO Brian Molefe threatened to build a R15-billion terminal to compete with RBCT after criticising the terminal for not providing access to small black-owned coal mining companies.

– Caxton News Service