South African export terminals close

A nationwide 21-day lockdown in South Africa in an attempt to stop Covid-19 from taking hold in the country has meant that South Africa’s main export terminals have closed to mineral exports. The move will disrupt copper and cobalt supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

The multi-purpose terminals of East London, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth and Maydon Wharf would be closed, as will be all vehicle terminals. The manganese export terminal of Port Elizabeth would also shut.

“Transnet has taken a decision to scale down all of its transportation services and operations for non-essential cargo during the period of the state of lockdown,” the managers of Richards Bay terminals said in a letter to clients that was seen by Reuters.

The only goods that will still be handled will be agricultural bulk products such as grains, soya bean meal, fertilizer and wood chips, which have been deemed as essential during the lockdown.

The closures are also likely to affect chrome and cobalt exporters, said Reuters, citing unnamed industry sources.

South Africa has three-quarters of the world’s chrome resources and exported 4m tonnes of chrome ore in 2018, mainly to China.