Assmang declares force majeure on manganese exports owing to KZN protests

PROTESTS in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province had led to privately-held manganese producer Assmang declaring a force majeure on exports, said Bloomberg News.

Citing an email from Rorie Wilson, an alternate director of Assmang, the newswire said port backlogs at Durban and Richards Bay could mean interruptions for two weeks.

The protests, which led to violent looting of retail centres and industrial sites throughout the province and Gauteng province, have been mostly quelled.

“Things have not stabilised or returned to normal yet, so we will still see some extended delays as we look to restart the operations,” Wilson said. “The ports also have a big backlog to catch up on.”

Assmang’s manganese and iron ore mining operations continued to operate normally, said Bloomberg News. The force majeure was still in place as of Sunday, it said.

Transnet, the state-owned logistics and freight company, said last week that service levels at Durban and Richards Bay ports “had improved slightly” with employees reporting for shift starts following the improvement of public transport in parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Shipping backlogs had been cleared at Richards Bay whilst the Transnet Pipeline network remained operational. But fuel and food shortages, as well as road closures in the vicinity of Durban port “… continue to constrain the rest of the supply chain as trucks cannot get into and out of the port,” said Transnet.