South Africa's Richards Bay Coal Exports Rise to Record in 2015

  • Terminal ships 75.4 million tons; record `difficult to break'
  • No exports made to China, world's biggest energy consumer

Coal exports from South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal climbed 5.7 percent to a record in 2015, exceeding the facility’s target.

The terminal shipped 75.4 million metric tons last year, Chief Executive Officer Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane told reporters at the port on South Africa’s northeastern coast Tuesday. That surpassed the 75 million-ton target.

The 2015 record “will be a very difficult one to break," she said, with shipments in 2016 seen in line with last year’s.

Prices of the fuel have fallen more than 40 percent since the start of 2014 as raw-materials prices are mired in the longest slump in decades on weaker growth in China, the largest consumer of metals to grains. RBCT handles coal from mines owned by companies including Glencore Plc, Anglo American Plc and South32 Ltd. The facility has capacity to ship 91 million tons annually. South Africa is the seventh-biggest producer of the fuel globally, according to the World Coal Association’s website.

About 59 percent of exports went to Asia, mostly India, with shipments to the region declining 7 percent. Nineteen percent went to Europe, 6 percent less than a year earlier, and 14 percent went to Africa, 7 percent more than a year earlier.

No vessels went to China, Siwisa-Damasane said. “There has been growth in the market, but China has stopped,” she said. 

Coal imports by the Asian nation, the world’s largest energy consumer, fell the most on record to the lowest in four years in 2015 as a slowing economy and government efforts to curb pollution damped demand, according to preliminary data released by the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs on Jan. 13.

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