SA coal exports to Europe set to remain elevated, says Thungela’s Ndlovu

July Ndlovu, CEO, Anglo American: Coal

SOUTH African coal sales to Europe would remain elevated even if the war in Ukraine ends, said BusinessLive citing the comments of Thungela Resources CEO, July Ndlovu.

Ndlovu told the publication that Europe was unlikely to rely to the same extent on Russian gas and would continue to diversify its energy sources.

“In the short term there is no question that Europe will import more coal from South Africa to replace Russian coal, but in the longer term the main driver will be the desire to diversify energy sources,” he said.

“I don’t think we will again see the same concentration of reliance on Russia that we saw in the past. This, I think, will secure a pathway for South African coal to Europe, for as long as Europe is burning coal,” he added.

Asked for his view on a recent agreement to cooperate with Transnet on improving its systems, Ndlovu said he was “optimistic” there would be progress this year “if we continue in that spirit”.

Transnet agreed to cooperate with the Minerals Council South Africa in an effort to improve its rail service to bulk mining firms. In November, Thungela reported a 600,000 ton opportunity cost (export coal that had not been delivered to Richards Bay Coal Terminal) for the second half of its financial year to date.

RBCT said last month that coal exports had sunk to a 30 year low of 50.43 million tons in 2022 owing to Transnet failures blamed on vandalism, corruption, a lack of spares as well as a strike and derailment.

However, the Minerals Council said in January that the rail failures were predominantly to do with management deficits. It sent a letter to Transnet’s board in December asking for the resignations of Transnet CEO Portia Derby and her lieutenant at Transnet Freight Rail, Sizakele Mzimela prior to the agreement to cooperate.