Transnet, South Africa’s state-owned ports and freight-rail company, is investigating the cause of two fires that impacted bulk shipments at port operations in Durban and Richards Bay, where it declared force majeure on Friday.
“The fires were contained and extinguished,” Transnet said in an e-mailed statement. “Business continuity plans have been invoked and Transnet continues to work with all impacted stakeholders to minimize disruptions and ensure that repairs are concluded as quickly as possible.”
The ports operator has made progress restoring operations at Richards Bay, with five of seven conveyor belts back in use and the rest of the work being handled manually.
The Richards Bay coal terminal, the largest on the continent, is essential to South Africa’s coal industry supply-chain, having shipped 70.2 million tons of the fossil fuel in 2020. But constraints at the port and derailments on the lines which Transnet operates hampered coal exports in the first half of this year, according to Exxaro Resources Ltd.
At least two conveyor belts were affected by the fires at Durban’s grain export terminal at Maydon Wharf precinct. The ports operator met with the leadership of the agricultural industry to assure them that the terminal is working around the clock to get the belt restored and back in operation, Transnet said.