Civil unrest hits South African mineral supply chains – by Chantelle Kotze (SP Global – July 15, 2021)

Port, rail and road transport operations in South Africa have been disrupted by ongoing civil unrest and violence, with several notices of force majeure issued, impacting the transportation of mined raw materials.

The unrest followed the jailing of the country’s former president Jacob Zuma, and the subsequent dismissal of his bid by the country’s High Court on July 9 to have his arrest overturned. However, it has since escalated into mass looting, violence and acts of destruction, mainly in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) said July 15 in a statement that it continues to monitor the safety and security of the energy and mining sectors and is in discussions with all energy and mining sector players amid the ongoing unrest.

Notices of force majeure

Disruptions of supply routes into and out of KwaZulu-Natal due to the civil unrest resulted in Southern Africa’s largest oil refinery, the 165,000 bbl/d South African Petroleum Refineries, owned in partnership by Shell Refining SA and BP Southern Africa, declaring force majeure on July 13.

The refinery in Durban said it was unable to sustain refinery operations, which could impact national petroleum product supply.

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