Port of East London

From Global Energy Monitor

The Port of East London is South Africa's only remaining river port and is situated at the mouth of the Buffalo River in the East Cape Province. The original name was Port Rex. The general cargo port has rail and road connections with the hinterland (Free State and Gauteng) and north and southwest to KZN and Port Elizabeth, respectively.[1]

Plans for a coal export terminal at East London, originally announced in 2011, were cancelled in 2014.

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January 2015 Update

As of early 2015, plans for a coal export terminal at the Port of East London have definitively been scuttled, due to the insolvency of terminal developer Elitheni Coal as well as pollution concerns raised by Mercedes Benz South Africa (MBSA), which operates a large manufacturing plant in East London. In February 2012, MBSA publicly expressed concerns that its automobile painting operations would be negatively impacted by pollutants associated with the loading and off-loading of coal.[2] In November 2013, Elitheni Coal, developer of the East London coal export terminal, shut down its Elitheni Mine and experienced a hostile takeover after incurring unpaid debts of over 20 million rand. Elitheni Coal's new management subsequently announced their intent to develop a coal power station at the mine rather than exporting coal through East London.[3]

In June 2014, the Transnet Group, which oversees operations at all South African ports, confirmed that plans for the East London coal export terminal had been cancelled, despite Transnet's investment of over 80 million rand in mobile cranes and other infrastructure for the terminal. According to Transnet Port Terminals chief executive Brian Molefe, Transnet now plans to move its cranes and other equipment from East London to a new multi-purpose terminal in Ngqura, the Port of Ngqura, which would begin handling exports of both manganese and coal by 2019.[4]

Coal exports

In March 2011, London Commodity Brokers (LCB) announced it aims to sell 2 million tonnes of South African thermal coal a year for Strategic Natural Resources (SNR), using the port of East London rather than the busier Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT). The coal, produced by SNR's Elitheni mine in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, will be shipped out of East London Port. Once the mine "has reached full production," Port Elizabeth will be used as well. SNR, advised by LCB, is in discussions with potential customers for the coal.

Booming Asian demand for South African coal, led by India and China, has prompted producers to look for new routes to take advantage of current high coal prices of around $120 a tonne, which give exporters a reported profit of over $60. LCB has sold 200 million tonnes of coal since its inception in 2005, including over 22 million tonnes of South African coal from RBCT in 2010.

Contact Information

Port of East London
PO Box 101
East London 5200
Tel: (27) 043 700 1200
Fax: (27) 043 700 2319
Website: http://www.transnetnationalportsauthority.net/OurPorts/East%20London/Pages/Overview.aspx

Articles and resources


  1. "East London" Ports and Ships, accessed March 2011.
  2. "Mercedes Benz against coal export terminal at East London" Moneyweb, February 13, 2012.
  3. "23 Nov: ANC boss, the Irish connection, and the hostile mine takeover" DispatchLive, November 25, 2013.
  4. "EL set to lose coal terminal to Ngqura" DispatchLive, July 1, 2014.

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