Durban 21-01-2014 Richard's Bay Coal Terminal. This are four ships being loaded. Picture by: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Johannesburg - Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) plans to expand its coal capacity from the current 90 million tons a year to 110 million tons a year as demand for coal exports increase.

The terminal had for the first time received and exported more than 70 million tons of coal last year. It received 70.81 million tons of coal and managed to export about 70.32 million, compared with the 68.52 million tons received and the 68.34 million tons shipped during 2012.

South Asia was the terminal’s biggest export destination last year, with 75 percent of the export volume shipped to China. RBCT chief executive Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane said extensive research done on the terminal capacity development plans showed that the terminal could increase the capacity to 110 million tons.

She added that potential equipment and capacity requirements for the expansion were in place. “We have identified a piece of land that belongs to Transnet, that we can use for more capacity and we are in discussion with them.”

Siwisa-Damasane said the expansion would require an additional tippler, the extension of the existing stockyard areas and an additional ship loader, among other things.

She added that this would be the cheapest supply-chain development option for the company, as Transnet was already providing strong freight and rail support and shipping infrastructure. “It would not be like building a terminal from scratch and it would also be for the benefit of the junior miners,” she said.

Siwisa-Damasane said RBCT’s phase six expansions plans were in line with Transnet’s infrastructure development programme. She said the company was aware of Transnet’s plans to build a coal terminal, but that would not stop RBCT from its plans. “We are in discussion with them and we will carry on with our plans. We have done our research and we are now busy with the pre-feasibility studies,” she said.

Transnet plans to build a new coal terminal at an estimated cost of R15 billion.

RBCT has been recently criticised over the lack of terminal access for junior producers.

But Siwisa-Damasane said the accusations were not true because the company had long improved its capacity allocation for black and junior coal producers. “We have just issued 4 million tons of capacity for 23 junior miners.”

Siwisa-Damasane said RBCT’s 15 million tons capacity of the phase five project was built to accommodate black-owned coal producers. It was approved in 2005 and commissioned in 2009. She said black and junior producers benefited from a total of 19 million tons of coal capacity.

She said besides the recent public spats over the issue of junior producers, Transnet and RBCT had built good relations. - Business Report