South Africa’s mining companies, losing out on billions of dollars in sales due to logistics bottlenecks, could soon have a quicker route to ports in neighboring Mozambique.
The Logistics Co., indirectly owned by Old Mutual Ltd.’s African Infrastructure Investment Managers, plans to open a trucks-only crossing at Komatipoort, just north of South Africa’s main Lebombo entry point into Mozambique. The project involves upgrading an existing service road along a railway line, and building a truck staging facility that will have customs and immigration offices on the outskirts of the town of Komatipoort, according to Hennie Jooste, head of operations at TLC.
The company, which already operates a rail terminal on the Mozambican side of the border, could process as many as 500 trucks daily at the planned new crossing, Jooste said by phone. That may reduce pressure on the existing border post that can see 1,800 trucks arrive daily, forming queues that sometimes stretch for 30 kilometers (19 miles), he said. The company’s main priority is to accommodate the 200 to 250 trucks TLC operates carrying magnetite, a type of iron ore, into Mozambique.
The lorries will offload at the rail terminal, and then return empty through the existing border. The minerals will then travel by train to ports in Maputo Bay.
South African producers of magnetite, chrome and coal have increasingly used the N4 highway through the Lebombo border to ship their minerals from the ports of Maputo and Matola as their own country’s rail and port infrastructure have floundered. At the same time, Mozambique has been increasing its port and rail capacity.
TLC plans to start construction around mid-October on the project, and complete it by May. It will cost about 50 million rand ($2.6 million) to build, Jooste said.