SA's bulk export volumes rose by 9.9% year-on-year (y/y) in the first seven months of 2012‚ data from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) showed on Wednesday.
Bulk exports rose by 6.6% in 2011 to a record 141.493 million tons (Mt) after a 9.0% jump in 2010.
The slower growth last year was in part due to weather-related disruptions as well as cable theft on the Mpumalanga-Richards Bay coal line‚ which resulted in derailments and other disruptions to traffic.
The coal line was closed for 20 days in May and June 2011 to do necessary maintenance and in October exports out of Richards Bay exceeded 8Mt or an annualised 96Mt‚ but this eased to 7.3Mt in November before rising to 7.5Mt in December and 7.7Mt or an annualised 92Mt in January 2012. Shipments for the first seven months were up 16.7% y/y.
Last year shipments out of Richards Bay‚ which are mostly coal‚ disappointed with a 1.4% rise to 76Mt in 2011‚ while mostly iron ore shipments out of Saldanha Bay increased by 12.3% to 53.3Mt. In July 2012 the y/y increases were 15.7% and 7.0% respectively‚ indicating that demand for these commodities remains strong despite the global growth concerns.
The star performer last year was agricultural and manganese exports out of the other South African ports‚ such as Durban and Port Elizabeth‚ which jumped by 18.7% to 12.2Mt. In July 2012 there was a 13.3% y/y increase.
The majority of bulk exports go to Asia as China‚ India and Japan require South African coal and iron ore to feed their steel mills and thermal coal power stations.
As the vast majority of nuclear power stations in Japan have been closed down following safety concerns after the March 2011 earthquake‚ Japan requires more coal to burn in their thermal power stations‚ as nuclear power supplied some 30% of Japan's electricity in 2010.
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