Thungela CEO says coal deliveries to Richards Bay “stabilised”

July Ndlovu, CEO, Thungela Resources

THUNGELA Resources CEO July Ndlovu said the decline in coal deliveries to Richards Bay had been stopped as the rail network had been stabilised.

“There has been an improvement. That’s a fact,” he said. “In the first quarter there was an average of 14 trains per day – the worst on recent record. But in the second quarter there were about 20 trains a day,” Ndlovu said.

He was speaking at the Coal and Energy Transition Day, a conference in Johannesburg.

The improvement was a result of cooperation with South Africa’s government-owned rail and ports company, Transnet. “We argue a lot but we are making progress,” said Ndlovu.

Richards Bay Coal Terminal reported coal deliveries of just above 50 million tons (Mt) for 2021, the lowest in 30 years. By March, the tempo on the rail was closer to 40Mt despite the formation of working committees between Transnet and the Minerals Council.

In order Thungela make the upper end of its export saleable production guidance range 12.5Mt, it required an industry run rate of 53Mt in the second half of the year, the company said last month.

Later at the conference Siza Mzimela, CEO of Transnet Freight Rail, Transnet’s largest division, said her company was capable of delivering 60 million tons of coal this year as a number of exogenous negative factors in previous years would not occur.

These were a strike among Transnet staff last year and a cyber attack in 2021 which heavily affected exports and container terminals across the Transnet network.