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SA’s Richards Bay says coal exports fell in 2020

Weighed down by Covid-19 disruptions, it said on Wednesday.
Image: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg

Coal exports from South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) fell to 70.2 million tonnes last year from 72.2 million tonnes in 2019, weighed down by Covid-19 disruptions, it said on Wednesday.

RBCT had been targeting coal exports of 77 million tonnes in each of the last two years.

“Although we probably could of done better, there is always more coal to move, but given the challenges the value chain faced this is a stellar performance in our eyes,” said RBCT Chief Executive Alan Waller.

Africa’s largest coal export facility said 92% of its exports went to Asia last year, with India and Pakistan being the largest takers.

Waller said the company had, however, exported about 654 000 tonnes of coal to China in 2020, the first time it has sent exports there since 2014. Waller said RBCT was hopeful of further exports to China in 2021.

China’s coal imports from Australia plunged in December as it targeted various Australian products with unofficial import restrictions.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have come under increasing strain amid a series of disputes over trade, politics and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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