Transnet saves with megatrain
Transnet Freight Rail saved more than R1bn by successfully testing the world’s longest train. The intention is to serve growing demand from SAs ’ manganese miners for access to export markets for the key steel ingredient, adding 1-million tons of extra capacity to its network.
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) saved more than R1bn by successfully testing the world’s longest train.
The intention is to serve growing demand from SA’s manganese miners for access to export markets for the key steel ingredient, adding 1-million tons of extra capacity to its network.
SA has the world’s largest manganese deposits and is a leading player in supplying the mineral to steel mills, but mining firms have long complained about limited rail capacity creating bottlenecks for exports.
Transnet had looked at expanding capacity on the line between Hotazel and Port Elizabeth and introducing new rolling stock in an expensive programme. The use of the Sishento-Saldanha line with a megatrain meant a 90% saving worth more than R1bn.
The September test with 375 wagons in a 4km-long train proved the concept that TFR could haul manganese in this configuration, topping the longest production train in the world, the 342-wagon iron-ore trains running on the same 861km Sishen-to-Saldanha line.
A train with this many wagons would haul 22,500 tons of manganese ore and give TFR an extra 1-million tons a year of capacity, running 44 loads to Saldanha, which is primarily an iron-ore export facility.
“The project will maximise the manganese volumes railed between the mines in Hotazel via Sishen to Saldanha,” said TFR COO Lloyd Tobias.
The next step is bringing the train into operation and securing manganese ore to fill it now that the test work has proved successful, said Russell Baatjies, TFR’s GM of the iron ore and manganese business unit. The train is “meant to meet the needs of manganese customers within the Hotazel area and the emerging miners. This phase will include further customer engagements and official launch of the train,” he said.
Transnet is using innovative ways to step up its share of manganese moving out of the Northern Cape to offshore markets and wants to capture the full 14-million tons transported to the coast every year, Gert de Beer, the parastatal’s chief business development officer, told Business Day in July.
Transnet has upped its manganese capacity to 12.8-million tons a year from 5-million tons a year in 2012 and is using almost all of SA’s ports served by its rail network, but the focus is on the Port Elizabeth and Saldanha harbours, which are both at the end of heavy-haul lines, he said.
Transnet has signed longterm agreements with four manganese companies. They are Assmang — the company jointly owned by African Rainbow Minerals and Assore — South32, Tshipi — owned by Australia’s Jupiter Mines — and PMG Mining.