SA bulk exports fall to 11.6-million tonnes in July

SA bulk exports fall to 11.6-million tonnes in July

Aug 11, 2016: Export volumes from South Africa fell by 15.4 percent year on year in July to 11.6-million tonnes (Mt) after rising by 6.2 percent on a yearly basis in April to the second highest monthly total of 16.2 million tonnes, data from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) showed.

Record monthly tonnage of 16.4 Mt was achieved in January 2015.The July drop was in part due to the closure of the coal line between Mpumalanga and Richards Bay for the annual maintenance period between July 11 and July 24. On average, 230,000 tonnes per day is railed down the corridor, but export orders can be filled from the stockpile at Richards Bay Coal Terminal during the maintenance period. The maintenance was normally carried out in May, but shifted to July this year at the request of coal miners, as the overseas coal demand is seasonally weak due to the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Despite the June and April y-o-y increases, total bulk exports are still down 7.5 percent of an annual basis in the first seven months of 2016.

Bulk exports out of Richards Bay, which are mostly coal, plunged by 18.5 percent y-o-y in July to 6.2 Mt from 6.9 Mt in June after growing by 8.2 y-o-y in 2015 to 93 Mt. As Richards Bay Coal Terminal no longer releases operational statistics, economists are finding it difficult to track economic performance in South Africa in a timeous manner.

Despite the 40 percent plunge in the iron ore price in 2015, bulk exports out of Saldanha, which are mostly iron ore, increased by 12.7 percent in 2015 to 63.4 Mt, but in July 2016 there was a 17.8 percent y-o-y fall to 4.3 Mt.

The surprise in the July data was the 23.8 percenton an annual basis rise in bulk exports, which are mostly grains and sugar from other ports such as Durban, to 1,156,128 tonnes after falling by 19.3 percent in 2015 to 11.6 Mt.

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