In terms of the public–private partnership, TPT, formerly South African Port Operations (SAPO), owns the 31 000 m2 of land on which the subsidiary of NCT Forestry Cooperative has built its chipper and a 75 000-t storage shed at the Durban port and earns fees from transporting the chips along its conveyor system from the warehouse onto the awaiting vessels.
However, parastatal representatives last week declined to disclose how much revenue TPT had generated from these fees.
NCT Durban Woodchips supplies and chips the logs in a chipper with a capacity to run at 250 t/h and then stores the chips. The chipper is a three-metre-diameter disc drawn by a 1 600-kW motor, which can chip logs up to 500 mm in diameter.
NCT Durban Woodchips has a five-year contract with its only customer, Japanese fine paper maker Hokuestsu, to supply 360 000 t of woodchips a year, as well as any surplus. The price is negotiable, depending on world supply and demand. The cooperative is paid on a bone dry basis and Derek Rall, the plant engineer, says samples are tested for size and moisture every 200 t.
The cooperative’s chairperson, Volley Keyser, says the contract, which expires in 2010, is currently being renegotiated.
NCT Durban Woodchips supplies about 10% of Hokuestsu’s raw materials. The rest is imported from Chile, Argentina and Australia.
The facility is served by three dedicated railway lines and its own siding, but Rall says 90% of the logs are transported on the country’s roads by various trucking companies.
About 70% of the logs are eucalyptus and the balance the more expensive and harder wattle.
Graham Braby, TPT’s chief of operations, says there has been a fairly severe depletion of stock this year because of the uncertainty caused by land claims, which have delayed planting, and the damage caused by fires.
TPT’s Agriport, the bulk terminal operation at Durban’s Maydon Wharf, in partnership with NCT Durban Woodchips, loaded its first woodchip vessel, the Hokuestsu Ace, in February 2005, with 27 036 t.
The woodchip plant, which cost R82-million, was the first environment-friendly approved woodchip facility. Agriport spent R30-million on the loading facility.
Tracey Neat, TPT’s business unit executive at the Maydon Wharf multipurpose terminal and Agriport, says one-million tons has been exported on 30 vessels.
“Initially, one vessel was loaded every five weeks. However, recently, a vessel was loaded with woodchips every four weeks,” she says.
In July, the millionth ton of wood chips was loaded on the Hokuestsu Hope 11. Agriport also broke its own record of loading the vessel at an average rate of 565 t/h with Agriport’s ship loader.
Keyser says it is the team spirit and cooperation between the timber growers, NCT Durban Woodchips and Agriport, that has enabled the public–private partnership to achieve such a remarkable milestone.