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Grindrod plans commodity portfolio expansion in hunt for growth

17th March 2023

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Logistics specialist Grindrod aims to “deconcentrate” its portfolio of commodities, says CEO Xolani Mbambo.

Unveiling the company’s financial results for the year ended December 31 last week, he noted that Grindrod had been doing exceptionally well in handling large volumes of chrome, ferrochrome, magnetite, coal and iron-ore through its various ports, terminals and other logistical channels.

However, it was time to now also grow other types of cargo, especially those prevalent in the green energy revolution.

“We need to start handling graphite beyond our Nacala solution [in Mozambique]. We are exploring various opportunities here,” said Mbambo.

Grindrod also wanted to become much more involved in the copper pipeline.

“By nature, copper flows are high-value items and typically they come with high margins,” noted Mbambo.

“[Any growth] needs to happen beyond the minimal warehousing we currently do in Durban, and also beyond the locomotives leased to other rail operators moving that same cargo.”

Grindrod also wanted to expand its manganese offering, with the board having approved R150-million in funding to establish a manganese handling solution in the Eastern Cape, set to be implemented later this year.

“We also want to play aggressively in the agrispace, as well as in lithium,” said Mbambo.

In terms of rail solutions beyond the commodities outlined above, he noted that Grindrod had developed a pipeline of about 30 opportunities, with about six of these “high on the probability scale”.

Mbambo also said the Port of Maputo, where Grindrod played a significant role, was becoming increasingly well entrenched in the region’s transport network.

This comes as South Africa struggles to maintain and operate its State-owned logistics operations optimally.

“We are seeing Maputo becoming a de facto solution,” said Mbambo.

Grindrod saw record volume growth in the Port of Maputo last year, underpinned by the facility’s rehabilitated berths, expanded slabs, new handling equipment, upgraded rail wagon discharge facility and a 24-hour border operation.

The group last week reported that revenue from its core businesses for the year ended December 31 expanded by 58% over the previous year, to R7.4-billion, based on volume growth.

Noncore businesses include Marine Fuels. The disposal of Grindrod Bank as a noncore asset was concluded in November.

Trading profit from core businesses – ports, terminals and logistics – increased by 32%, to R2.2-billion.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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