The state-of-the-art bulk ship-loader will boost efficiency at the Richards Bay Terminal.

The Port of Richards Bay took delivery of a R140 million general bulk ship-loader last week that will boost efficiency levels at South Africa’s premier bulk port.

The state-of-the-art bulk ship-loader is the latest addition in Transnet Port Terminal’s (TPT) R33 billion Market Demand Strategy (MDS) investment programme.

Custom-built to complement the terminal’s operational envelope, the loader was designed in Austria and built in China. However, South African engineering company SANDVIK managed its entire procurement.

The linear travelling loader’s capacity is a guaranteed 2 500 tons per hour at a bulk density of 1.9 tons per cubic metre. It will be suitable for use on all export commodities that the terminal handles including coal, magnetite, chrome and chloride.

“The arrival of this ship-loader is a replacement of the less suited, 35-year-old Krupp machine that had exceeded its design life,” said terminal manager Victor Mkhize.

He said the loader not only boasted better outreach and a higher draft to accommodate much larger vessels, but it had also been designed to be more environmentally friendly. It also boasts a built-in dust- collection system and three dust-free loading chutes.

According to TPT, just over 70 percent of the terminal’s total commercial trade was export. The addition of equipment was aimed at the Market Demand Strategy’s aim of facilitating unconstrained growth, unlocking demand and creating world-class port operations through improved efficiencies.

“TPT will, in the next seven years, invest in infrastructure, maintenance and expansion, drive growth and increase our footprint in Africa, offering improved connectivity to existing and new markets,” said chief executive Karl Socikwa.

He said there were several projects under way across all terminals to ensure equipment woes would no longer hinder operational targets.

A skills transfer opportunity has also been created through SANDVIK whereby TPT operators and the technical team will be trained for sustainable operations.

The pre-assembled loader will be installed upon arrival to undergo commissioning. It is scheduled to be fully operational in April.