South Africa’s Transnet lifts force majeure on coal export line

Image courtesy of Transnet

South Africa’s state port and rail company, Transnet SOC Ltd., lifted a force majeure on its main coal export line more than two weeks after a train derailed on the route and violence delayed clean-up efforts.

The incident on Nov. 8 “caused massive damage to infrastructure and rolling stock, necessitating closure of both lines,” Transnet said in a statement. It imposed a clause that allows companies to avoid liability when they’re unable to honor contracts because of events beyond their control on Nov. 10, which remained in place until Friday.

Efforts to clear the tracks were interrupted by extortion and violent acts by a community group that demanded contracts. That added to a plethora of issues plaguing Transnet — it’s invoked a force majeure six times in less than two years. Other disruptions included riots in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province in July last year, a cyberattack that incapacitated its container terminal, pay strikes and a fire that hampered bulk shipments.

The recent assessment of the site indicates the resumption of normal services on the coal line known as the North Corridor that runs from mines to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, Transnet said.

Transport constraints before the latest force majeure were estimated to be costing the mining industry 100 billion rand ($5.6 billion) in revenue, an amount that would have produced an extra 27 billion rand in taxes, Busi Mavuso, the chief executive officer of lobby group Business Leadership South Africa, said in a note last month.

(By Paul Burkhardt)


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