State-owned rail agency Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has signed a cooperation agreement with Mozambique State agency Ports and Railways of Mozambique (CFM) to implement an immediate train run-through model that will result in the export of chrome and ferrochrome moving seamlessly from Belfast, in Mpumalanga, to the Port of Maputo.
The agreement will introduce a seamless cross-border export channel for chrome in pursuit of increased efficiencies, TFR says.
This model will see consignments of 50 chrome and ferrochrome wagon loads being hauled by two 43D diesel locomotives from Belfast to the Port of Maputo.
The new model does not require the exchange of locomotives and will thus reduce the transit time by 12 hours over a return trip and improve efficiency and crew requirements. This will allow the current 15 trains a week to be increased to 21 a week, which translates to a volume increase of more than 800 000 t/y.
The current operating model involves four diesel locomotives hauling 50 wagons from Steelpoort to Belfast. From Belfast, the wagons are exchanged for four electric locomotives and then travel to Komatiepoort where they are hauled by two CFM diesel locomotives to the Maputo port. This model requires five crews from origin to destination and results in significant time delays each time the locomotives are exchanged.
“We expect this model will significantly reduce the number of chrome and ferrochrome trucks on the road en route from South Africa to the Maputo port of Mozambique. It is estimated that the increased volume by rail will remove in the region of 200 trucks a week,” TFR said.
“Rail transport is critical in bolstering economic development and this initiative will enable both railways to support the recovery of the region by connecting Africa to the world. This project is another example of a key driver of intra-trade supporting the growth of our two economies,” TFR CE Sizakele Mzimela said.
South Africa holds about 70% of the world's total chrome reserves, is the largest producer of chrome ore in the world and supplies 83% of China’s total yearly chrome ore imports. About 85% of chrome's commercial use is in the production of stainless steel, TFR said.