SOUTH AFRICAN iron ore producer Kumba Resources announced on January 26 that it had reached an agreement in principle with Transnet over capacity expansion on the Sishen - Saldanha heavy haul railway.

Kumba had criticised Spoornet’s failure to respond to growing demand, and proposed buying its own trains (RG 2.05 p59). Kumba needs extra rail capacity as it is planning to expand mining operations at Sishen and open up a new ore body at Sishen South.

The agreement paves the way for a public-private partnership to fund the expansion work, with Kumba saying it ’will support Transnet in any way that is needed’. The company expects to sign a new contract with Spoornet by the end of this month, and says that moving from US$ pricing to a Rand-based structure will make ’a positive contribution’ to the growth of South Africa’s iron ore industry.

Spoornet is also in discussion with power company Eskom over the construction of a PPP-funded rail link to Majuba power station near Amersfoort in Mpumalanga. Eskom has budgeted R1·5bn for the line, which will carry coal from mines at Ermelo when completed in 2008. The power station is currently served by road, with up to 400 heavy lorries a day damaging the N11 road.

  • A study by the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research published on February 7 found that road transport’s share of the South African freight market had risen from 63% in 1990 to 75% in 2003.