JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The partnership of South Africa’s mining industry and State-owned rail enterprise Transnet must translate into “results, results, results”, African Rainbow Minerals executive chairperson Dr Patrice Motsepe emphasised at the diversified mining company’s presentation of 2023 financial results.
On the operational front, iron-ore, manganese ore and thermal coal volumes were negatively impacted by logistics challenges in the 12 months to June 30, Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed ARM reported on September 4.
“For us in the private sector, the principle of employing the best skills and expertise, the best people for the job, is non-negotiable, absolutely non-negotiable,” Motsepe said, in drawing attention to the private sector employing young black, coloured, Indian and white South Africans to occupy senior positions, "not because they are black or coloured or Indian or white, but because they are the best for the job". (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
“We can’t be experimenting. There’s no time to be playing around and fidgeting and saying your experience is questionable, but you’re smart and bright, and then you put a smart and bright person in a leadership position which requires five, seven and sometime ten years of practical experience that the smart and bright person does not have. The best people in any industry are the ones who have grown up in the business and understand the business,” said Motsepe.
“Whether you’re at Transnet or Eskom or African Rainbow Minerals, it’s not the good ideas or even the good plans or the wonderful restructuring, or the new management that you put in place. That’s important but what’s more important are results, results, results…. The partnership with the mining industry and Transnet must translate into results.
“We need to work together, that’s why we have to continue to build the trust . . . we should never really be having problems as a country in having enough trains timeously.
“You’ll see that part of our volumes are down because the partnership with Transnet, which is something that’s important to us, can do much better, not just for African Rainbow Minerals, but for all of the mining companies that use Transnet,” added Motsepe.
In response to Umthombo Wealth analyst Sandile Magagula on what was informing ARM’s higher 2024 iron-ore export volume guidance from 12-million tonnes to 13.2-million tonnes, ARM Ferrous CE Andre Joubert pointed out the issues that influenced the higher guidance as being a combination of Transnet having a worker strike the previous year, followed by a very slow ramp-up back to production, which was included in the poor performance of Transnet, along with the moving of the Transnet allocation from the Beeshoek iron-ore mine to the Khumani iron-ore mine. There was a 350 000 t/y rail allocation to Beeshoek but with wagon capacities of only 65 t.
“Now, we’ve diverted those trains to Khumani mine at 100 t per wagon, so just that gives us almost 200 000 t a year extra. Then also, with deep engagement and involvement with Transnet and the iron-ore producers, we participated in the planning for the shutdown and in the tamping process to restore and level the track.
“We assisted Transnet in getting that tamping machine in place. Now, in October, we’re going to go for a ten-day shutdown and during that shutdown, there’s going to be a lot of work done and we’re assisting and working with Transnet in terms of that planning.
“The outcome of that is an objective that we have, which is to fix the areas where there’s speed restrictions due to the condition of the rail and the sleeper network and lift the majority of those speed restrictions, which will improve the overall cycle time.
"The plan that Transnet has is to increase the current 35 iron-ore train slots per week to 38 train slots per week. This is based on real planning and these are the elements that are going to give us that improved performance from our partners in Transnet and also my fellow iron-ore producers. We’re all in agreement and there is a concrete and definite plan on that, so it’s not just wishful thinking or a good-luck story. It’s real actions that are going to be put in place, and I’m pretty confident that we’re going to achieve those targets,” said Joubert.