Grindrod was interested in participating in the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) proposed R136-billion rolling stock renewal programme, said Grindrod freight services division CE Dave Rennie on Wednesday.
He said the JSE-listed shipping and logistics group would be keen to supply coaches, locomotives and control systems for the project, which hoped to see the first new Metrorail trains operational by 2015.
Grindrod had a rolling stock manufacturing facility in Pretoria.
“Currently we can built 48 locomotives a year,” said Rennie.
Grindrod was already involved in the African rail market and was leasing locomotives to African Minerals Limited’s (AML’s) Tonkolili iron-mine, in Sierra Leone, for example. The locomotives ran from the mine on a 270 km track to Pepel port.
The first ore was loaded in November last year.
It was expected that exports from the mine would reach around 15-million tons this year.
Grindrod was adding 14 locomotives to its 20-strong fleet in Sierra Leone this year.
Rennie said Grindrod could potentially also operate this line for AML.
He added that West African projects could see 400-million tons of iron-ore a year be moved for export in the next ten years.
While Grindrod was interested in participating in these projects, it was also interested in the oil and gas industries in West Africa, and the coal and gas sectors in East Africa.
“African rail, port and terminal projects are a big part of our strategy going forward,” said Rennie.
He does not want to provide specifics on any projects.
“We have a team looking at opportunities in Africa, but until we believe we can roll them out, we are not putting them on the table,” noted Rennie.
Grindrod was already a strong logistics service provider in the African coal industry, shipping 3.9-million of coal through its Maputo coal terminal in 2011, and 3.8-million tons through Richards Bay.
The prefeasibility study to expand the Maputo terminal from the current 6-million tons by another 20-million tons a year had already been completed. Richards Bay was also earmarked for a possible ten-million tons-a-year expansion.
Grindrod last year introduced Vitol as a strategic partner to the Maputo coal terminal, when it acquired 35% of the facility for $67.7-million.
The company also entered into a partnership with Vitol, which saw both companies sell their sub-Saharan coal trading businesses into the joint venture.
“There are enormous opportunities for the Maputo terminal,” noted Grindrod CEO Alan Olivier.
“The outlook for commodities remains positive for the long term.”