Richards Bay gets new bulk handling facility

Dec 5, 2003
Author: P&S

A new R250 million bulk materials handling facility is to be built at the port of Richards Bay.

Among the commodities expected to be handled by the new company, RBC Distributors, is sized and bulk steam coal.

The formal contract was signed this week with contractors Grinaker-LTA Ltd in front of the mayor of Richards Bay Mr Denny Moffat, as well as the port manager for Richards Bay, Mr Hlubi Mzamo.

Marketing director for the new company, Francis Reddy said the project had been made possible with partnership and financing from an American international bank, as well as close working relationships with the Borough of Richards Bay, port officials and the marketing arms of SA Port Operations and the National Ports Authority.

This is the first fully automated plant in South Africa and, as far as I am aware, in Africa, said Reddy. We offer our clients fast turnaround for their materials between ship and washed road or rail wagons at favourable tariffs, together with an on-line facility to ascertain stock levels stored with us at any given time.

Mayor Moffat said the facility would assist the efficiency of the port of Richards Bay. The harbour is critical to the growth of Richards Bay and although we have the tonnage, unless we can offer san adequate service and this is not always the case we will not see the benefits created by this movement of goods.

Port manager Hlubi Mzamo said he agreed with Moffatt that port efficiencies needed to be rectified and said the port of Richards Bay was in a unique situation compared to other South African ports.

We have plenty of room to expand and this facility will assist in adding value to port services by more cost-effective and efficient handling of Cargo.

The facility is ideally situated in close proximity to the port on 22 hectares of land between the John Ross Highway in the north and a rail spur intersecting the Harbour Arterial in the south.

The plant will offer 500,000 cubic metres of storage area by way of bunkers, dome silos and open stockpile areas. Initial construction will deliver the following:

8 bunkers, each with a 20,000 cubic metre capacity
substantial open storage areas
a four by 40 wagon rail siding facility
a sized weigh-bridge for road and rail
a rail wagon and road truck wash facility
a side-arm tippler

Discussions are underway with Richards Bay-based officials of SA Port Operations to link RBC Distributors with existing port infrastructure. If successful, this construction will run concurrently with the above.

Construction is due to commence in early January and will take eighteen months to complete.

We are looking to having two bunkers and a major portion of the open storage area available for use as early as June 2004, said Reddy.

Bulk shipment of materials by road or rail for temporary storage will be offloaded by rail tippler, road in-load structures, conveyors or mechanical shovel, via the weighbridges. Conveying within the facility will be by bucket elevators or belt conveyors, while reclaiming from bunkers or silos will be via the vibrafloors discharging on to belt conveyors.

These, in turn, will lead to an out-load structure incorporating a surge bin, to either road, rail or export conveyors.

Vibrafloors ensure no wastage, degradation or contamination, thus reducing shrinkage. Reclamation from the open stock piles will be via mechanical shovel onto road vehicles with special skips or onto conveyors. This process, which is anticipated to require minimal manual intervention, will be operated from a control centre incorporated in an on-site administration building.

To meet client requirements, RBC Distributors is preparing its compliance with internationally-recognised safety, health, environmental and quality standards in the form of ISO 9000, 14000 and 18000, NOSA, and fire protection articulation.

Work will be created for some 600 people during the construction phase and once the facility is complete, 35 people will be required to operate the automated facility. Reddy estimates that indirect employment, as a result of the development of this facility, will be created for a further 900 people.

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