CAPE TOWN, Feb 4 (Reuters) – There may be some irony in climate change being blamed for an increase in weather delays that resulted in South Africa’s coal exports dropping 4 percent last year, but in reality the rough seas at the country’s Richards Bay terminal are the least of the industry’s worries.
Shipments from Richards Bay declined to 73.5 million tonnes in 2018 from 76.5 million the prior year, well below the 91 million tonnes capacity of the terminal, which is the second-biggest in the world behind Newcastle Port in Australia.
The terminal lost 36 days of loading last year because of rough weather, down slightly from 38 days in 2017, with both these years being considerably higher than in preceding years.
But even if the terminal was fully available all 365 days of the year, it’s still unlikely that much more coal would have been shipped. The blame for South Africa’s lower exports was placed on market conditions by the head of Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), Alan Waller, with high prices crimping demand in the main export destination of India.
However, RBCT chair Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane said the weather disruptions are also likely a challenge for future years, and terminals around the world were going to have to deal with the “new norm” of what was previously abnormal weather patterns.