SA coal exports facing new disruption as Transnet suffers another train derailment

COAL exports from South Africa face further disruption after the state-owned freight and logistics company, Transnet, suffered another train derailment, said BusinessLive.

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), Transnet’s largest division by revenue, told BusinessLive another incident occurred early on Saturday (June 3) in which a coal train pulling 200 wagons derailed affecting 31 wagons.

The train was headed for Richards Bay where it was forecast some 76 million tons of (Mt) coal would be exported this year before a downgrade to 73Mt in March.

Commenting in June, Exxaro Resources said its sales targets for 2021 were at risk owing to lower locomotive availability, vandalism, and cable theft of TFR assets.

BusinessLive cited video evidence showing “… many derailed wagons overturned down an embankment with heaps of coal on the ground”.

TFR spokesperson Jane Moshoeshoe said there were no fatalities or injuries to the train crew or external parties. Investigations into the cause of the derailment were continuing.

One of the affected lines reopened on Sunday and is running trains. Work is still under way to clear the other line before repair work can commence, she said.

Said Exxaro in June: “The alarmingly low TFR performance is due to poor locomotive availability, increased incidences of cable theft as well as increased vandalism of rail infrastructure”. The company said it and the Coal Industry Forum, a platform established by the Minerals Council SA, had discussed the underperformance with TFR.

“TFR’s poor performance on domestic and export flows is most concerning and we expect this situation to continue to impact very negatively on our ability to move coal to customers and ports,” said Exxaro.