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Train crash halts coal railings to key S Africa export port

(Montel) A train crash has halted railed coal shipments to South Africa’s main export hub at Richards Bay, operator Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) said on Monday.

“Recovery efforts are underway after a derailment in which two trains collided in the early hours of Sunday,” TFR said in a note.

The incident occurred at Elubana, close to the key Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), it noted.

“Teams were dispatched to the scene immediately and recovery efforts began in earnest,” TFR said, noting an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the accident.

TFR did not comment on a possible duration, but sources close to the situation expected a halt of up to five days.

South Africa exported around 62.5m tonnes of coal last year, with most loaded at RBCT and nearly 8m tonnes earmarked for European destinations.

Vinesh Chetty, head of energy commodities with Cape Town-based consultancy Afriforesight, told Montel the accident would “certainly affect the already weak coal throughput at RBCT”.

“South African coal exports are also held back by port congestion at Richards Bay and trucking restrictions to the port,” he added.

Despite the news, the front-month API 4 contract – which reflects the price of coal loading free-on-board at Richards Bay – was seen last down USD 3.32 to USD 95/t, on Ice Futures.