JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – While South Africa would produce about 72-million tons of coal for the export market in 2009, only about 65-million tons would be exported as a result of rail constraints, Wood Mackenzie, vice-president of Consulting Africa Dirk Fourie told the eighth Coaltrans conference, in Johannesburg, on Monday.
He added that rail constraints would continue to hamper the country’s export progress until 2015.
Independent consultant Xavier Prevost agreed that while the country’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) would soon have completed an increase in capacity to 91-million tons a year, Transnet Freight Rail, which transports coal from the mines to the RBCT, as well as to other coal terminals in Durban and Maputo, in Mozambique, had not yet increased its capacity.
This was creating a stalemate as new coal export mining companies’ projects, which required additional rail capacity for their development, were waiting for the increased rail export tonnage to implement their plans, he noted.
It would be possible for South Africa to reach a coal export target of 91-million tons a year, if the country managed to improve on a number of aspects, including its rail infrastructure, as well as the recovery of coal reserves available in South Africa, he added.
The 91-million target would not likely be met in 2010, he noted, adding that he hoped this would still occur in the short term.
Meanwhile, both Fourie and Prevost said that South Africa would most likely see an increase in thermal coal demand from India and other Association of South East Asian Nations countries, going forward, as these countries continued to develop at a rapid pace.
South Africa’s exports to India could increase to 54-million tons a year by 2020, Fourie noted, adding that South Africa and Indonesia, another large coal supplier to India, could both supply coal to the Asian country in a competitive way.
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