The Maputo port is expected to handle around 18-million tons of cargo this year, up from 15-million tons last year, and 12-million tons in 2011, says Grindrod CEO Alan Olivier.
“We are in new territory here. “The port handled 15-million tons at its peak, and then dropped to a couple of million tons before we took over.”
JSE-listed bulk handling and shipping group Grindrod operates the Maputo port in partnership with Dubai Ports World and the Mozambique Ports & Railways Company.
The original plan was to take the port to 50-million tons a year by 2025, but now the operators are hoping to do this by 2020, notes Olivier.
The growth is expected to come from coal, magnetite, iron-ore, chrome ore, containers and vehicles, says Grindrod Freight Services CEO Dave Rennie.
Olivier adds that the product mix in the Maputo terminals will be driven in favour of magnetite. Magnetite is a form of iron-ore.
He says demand for the commodity is motivating this decision, while export volumes are also available at Maputo.
The magnetite moving through Maputo comes from Palabora Mining, at roughly five-million tons a year, with 1.25-million tons of iron-ore coming from Swaziland.
Rennie says Palabora Mining has “massive stockpiles” of magnetite that could be exported through Maputo.
While market demand will ultimately drive expansion at the Maputo port, he expects to soon see capacity for magnetite and iron-ore at 10-million tons a year to 15-million tons a year.
July saw the completion of the 1.3-milion-ton Maputo coal terminal Phase 3.5 expansion project to a yearly capacity of 7.3-million tons.
Key work streams on Phase 4 are progressing.
Jump in Volumes The Maputo car terminal experienced a 91% jump in volumes in the half-year ended June 30 to 37 155 vehicles imported and exported through the facility.
The South African Pretoria-based manufacturing operations of Nissan, Renault and BMW all make use of the terminal.
A second-phase expansion, increasing yearly capacity to 121 000 units a year, up from 52 000 units, was completed in July.
There are plans in the pipeline to further increase capacity at the car terminal, says Rennie.
Important The Maputo port is important to Grindrod, as private port and rail operators do not have access to this type of infrastructure in South Africa, as such infrastructure is owned by parastatal Transnet, notes Olivier.
He says opportunities such as those presented at Maputo are “the only ones available to companies like us seeking concessions”.
Maputo also has strategic value, he adds. For a start, it is closer to Gauteng than any South African port. It is also well connected. It has rail access from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, South Africa and also Botswana.
Olivier says there is also a regional need for the development of the Maputo port, as Durban is “fairly full” and the Richards Bay Coal Terminal is “close to capacity”.
“Also, from a customer point of view, do you want to put all your eggs into one basket?”
Olivier emphasises that Transnet has been “good to Grindrod”, having allocated rail capacity to the Maputo coal terminal.
“They are operating very well.”