Saldanha gears up for expansion

Sep 12, 2005
Author: P&S

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An expansion programme aimed at increasing iron ore exports at the Saldanha Iron Ore Terminal by 12 million tonnes annually is well underway, says Leon Broom, SA Port Operations business unit executive at the bulk terminal.

“By 2008 we’ll be able to handle the 41Mt – not all for export as Saldanha Steel absorbs some input, but in the longer term we’ll ramp up to 90Mt by 2015. Spoornet says it can handle this and will accelerate the introduction of 100t rail wagons in addition to modifying the existing fleet of 65 tonners for heavier loads and will increase its electric locomotive fleet by 69 units,” Broom told Ports & Ships.

New broom for Saldanha - Leon Broom says the Iron Ore Terminal will be ready to handle 41 million tonnes by early 2008. Picture Terry Hutson

He said the R920m upgrade at the iron ore terminal is already about 90% complete and has involved the refurbishing and replacing of existing stacker reclaimers, tipplers and shiploaders in addition to providing a second conveyor line to the quayside. Commissioning of a second tippler is expected to take place within a month.

The terminal currently handles an average of 16 Capesize vessels each month but the introduction of vessels larger than 150,000 DWT is anticipated.

The impressive upgrades at Saldanha have come late in the day after South Africa missed much of the global mining boom due to inadequate rail and port facilities. As a result the country has to play an urgent game of catch-up with its iron and coal exports in particular, although other mineral exports have been affected as well.

Transnet recently announced a programme to upgrade essential rail services between the coal and iron ore mining areas and the ports of Richards Bay and Saldanha respectively.

The Saldanha ore terminal which is fed by an 860-km long railway from the Northern Cape mines at Sishen will benefit from investments totalling R5.1Bn, aimed at boosting the line’s capacity by an additional 12 million tonnes by 2009.

Kumba Resources becomes the largest beneficiary, with a rail allocation increasing to 35Mt annually, up from 23.5Mt, and backed by Kumba’s own R2.96Bn expansion at the giant Sishen iron ore mine. Exports from this mine will move from 21.7Mt to 33.2Mt pa with the balance going to Saldanha Steel Works for steelmaking.

Additionally a R2.1Bn greenfield project at Kumba’s Sishen South mine will generate 9.5Mt of export ore annually, giving rise to hopes that the group can recover some of the market share lost in recent years - six years ago Kumba supplied China with 11.5% of its iron ore requirements but today this is down to around 4% despite the preferred higher grade of Sishen ore.

Assmang is another that will score with exports increasing from 6.5Mt to 10Mt annually.



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