Fuel blockades hit mineral exporters already struggling with Transnet

Richards Bay Coal Terminal

SOUTH African mineral exporters were said to be taking on additional costs as a result of road blockades earlier this week which – in some cases – compounded the freight problems posed by Transnet.

Fin24 cited miners as saying coal and chrome exports were disrupted following protests over fuel inflation with truck drivers blocking routes in Mpumalanga province. On Thursday, disruptions had spread to the R34 connecting Richards Bay and Empangeni.

The majority of South Africa’s coal is exported through Richards Bay Coal Terminal, but volumes this year have been badly affected by copper cable theft and locomotive availability problems suffered by Transnet.

Menar, a coal exporter, told Fin24 one of its drivers were forced at gunpoint to block the road on which he was travelling. “Besides the trauma the driver experiences, it poses a risk to the asset and public safety,” the companys said.

“Fortunately, the driver was unharmed, and the truck arrived safely at the port. There has been no direct impact on our volumes to port.”

The blockades also affected chrome producers on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld complex in North West province, said Fin24. Samancor Chrome said logistical planning, execution, and associated expenses were affected.

However, the company had put contingency plans in place to mitigate unplanned and unexpected blockades on its major exporting routes. “As such, we are not able to quantify the current situation’s impact in its totality,” the company told Fin24.