Transnet mulls further coal expansions

[] — TRANSPORT and logistics parastatal, Transnet has revealed that studies are underway to determine the possibility of significantly expanding the capacity of the export coal line and to assess rail transport needs in the coalfields in Mpumalanga.

In its latest annual report, CEO Chris Wells said feasibility studies are under way to determine whether there is a sound business case to increase capacity beyond 81 million tons.

Currently, Transnet plans to invest about R16bn to expand the coal export line from 62 million tons annually to 81 million tons after five years.

The capacity increase will require the upgrade of existing rolling stock, rail and yard expansions, electrical power upgrades and an additional 110 new locomotives.

This coal line project is part of the company’s R93.4bn capital investment programme, which seeks to upgrade rail, ports and the pipeline.

Wells said studies are under way to assess the transport needs from the mining of the coalfields in the Waterberg region in Mpumalanga, which is largely dependent on rail infrastructure upgrades to enable exports.

“Preliminary demand requirements will require substantial investments in the rail as well as in the ports,” Wells said.

The viability of this expansion is in the process of being assessed together with the most effective way to create the capacity and the link to existing rail infrastructure, he said.