Train collision closes main coal line to Richards Bay
Grootegeluk, an open cast coal mine within the Waterberg region, 25km from Lephalale, is expected to be affected by the closure of the coal line in Limpopo following the accident.
Exxaro’s head of stakeholder affairs, Mzila Mthenjane, said yesterday that the accident was regrettable and needed to be investigated.
“We still need to investigate the impact of the closure of the line on sales from Grootegeluk," Mthenjane said.
Transnet Freight Rail yesterday reported that it had closed the coal line following a head-on collision between two of its trains at the Matlabas crossing in Thabazimbi and Lephalale in Limpopo.
“The line is closed and there is no estimated time of reopening at this stage, but recovery teams are on-site to clear the scene and carry out repairs to damaged infrastructure,” said Transnet.
Transnet said engineers and senior management had attended the scene and a line investigation would be conducted to determine initial causes of the accident.
“Within seven days a board of inquiry will be set up, chaired by an independent arbiter,” it said.
Transnet said that the accident occurred when a train with 100 loaded coal wagons collided in the loop with a stationary train carrying 89 empty wagons.
The train driver and assistant train driver of the empty train died in the accident, while the driver and assistant from the loaded train were severely injured.
“The extent of damage to infrastructure is still to be determined but what is known at this stage is that the empty train set had two burnt-out locomotives and one derailed on its side,” said the company.
Xavier Prévost, a senior coal analyst at XMP Consulting, said the Limpopo coal line transported some 2 million tons a year.
“The mainline feeding coal from mines to Richards Bay Coal Terminal is the coal link from the Mpumalanga mines to the port. Only from the Exxaro Grootegeluk mine, which is mainly dedicated to coal for Eskom,” said Prévost.