The division was formed on August 1, 1999, with the merging of the chrome/manganese and iron/steel sectors.
“The new unit is more focused; we know the business and we can serve our clients better,” explains customer portfolio manager Frik Gibhard.
The section moves about 30-million tons a year.
An upward move in the chromium market has seen some expansion in mining in South Africa – growth which favours rail freight.
A worldwide apparent steel consumption growth of 3% for this year also adds to the demand on the chrome market.
South Africa has about 80% of the world’s chrome reserves, with the country’s market share in the ferrochrome industry anticipated to grow from an approximate 50% to 70% over the next decade.
“We are also involved in several projects with the aim being to expand with the industry,” remarks Gibhard.
In addition, the division is investigating the possibility of extending the railway line from Pendoring station to the Hernic Ferrochrome plant at Brits.
This involves an estimated investment of R20-million.
At this stage the plant is not rail-freight-friendly, and the ferrochrome is moved by road over nearly six kilometres to the station.
Furthermore, a five-year, R50-million contract involving the provision of a loading facility at the Steelpoort station for ASA Metals is nearing completion.
Gibhard also reveals that Feralloys, of Machadodorp, an Assmang plant, is upgrading its ferrochrome production, and is also looking at expanding its rail-freight option.
This three-year, R120-million contract makes provision for a loading facility at Steelpoort station.
The chrome ore from the Dwarsrivier mine will be transported to Steelpoort station on nearly 30 km of road by truck, from where it will be loaded on to trains bound for the export harbours and ferroalloy plants in Machadodorp.
“We believe in providing a total freight solution to our customers, so the loading, road and train freight will all be handled by BAS,” says Gibhard.
Projects with other producers that are still in the pipeline with regards potential for rail-freight solutions include a new South African chrome and alloy Boshoek plant and a new Samancor plant at Mooinooi, both with an anticipated 300 000 t/y ferrochrome capacity.