By Suren Naidoo
JSE-listed ports and logistics group Grindrod has flagged significant expansion plans for its operations in Mozambique, specifically the Maputo terminal (GML) and Matola Drybulk Terminal (TCM) where it has sub-concessions together with DP World.
The group did not mention the planned capex for the expansions in its Sens announcement on Monday, however, some details are likely to be revealed when Grindrod releases its full-year results for the year ended December 31 on March 4.
“Shareholders are advised that the Maputo Port Development Company [MPDC] has published a press release in Mozambique advising that the Maputo and Matola Drybulk Terminals, sub-concessioned to Grindrod, are considering the expansion of their respective footprint,” its Sens statement on the JSE notes.
Grindrod says the expansion “is in response to the increasing demand for export capacity”.
It will see GML’s throughput capacity trebling, from 1.5 million tonnes per annum to 4.5 million tonnes annually by the first half of this year.
The expansion at TCM, which is also located in the Maputo Port, will see its capacity increase from 7.3 million tonnes per annum to 12 million tonnes per annum in the “short- to medium-term”. In the longer term, the plan is to increase TCM’s capacity to 20 million tonnes annually.
“This [expansion] will promote port access to the new users and increase South Africa’s mineral exports on a year-on-year performance basis,” says Grindrod.
“The expansion of GML’s capacity is underway and a feasibility study for the planned expansion project at TCM has already been completed. Critical to both projects is unlocking road and rail bottlenecks along the corridor.”
Maputo port masterplan
“The expansion plans are included in the Port of Maputo’s new masterplan, which will be presented to the public in early May 2022 during the Maputo Port’s Conference,” the group adds.
In its joint press release with Grindrod, the MPDC notes that “global coal demand, which peaked in mid-2021, is still reaching price record highs due to the major surge in coal prices worldwide”.
This comes despite growing moves globally to move away from coal as an energy source.
Coal remains a key commodity export out of the Port of Maputo, which is still comparatively small in size to SA’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal, located just south of the Mozambican border in KwaZulu-Natal.
“In anticipation of growing demand for exports, TCM commenced with infrastructure, plant and equipment rehabilitation and replacement in 2009 which included deepening of the berth and quay offset,” says MPDC.
“An amount of US $128.7 million [around R1.95 billion] has been invested to date,” the agency adds.
“Our operations team works closely with the customer, MPDC marine services, and the vessel agent to ensure that every operation runs smoothly and efficiently. This has led to breaking new cargo handling records – 1 million tonnes in September 2021,” Xolani Mbambo, CEO of Grindrod Freight Services point out.
“The investment in channel dredging, paired with the rehabilitation and deepening of TCM’s berth to 15.4 metres, has equipped the port to accommodate bigger vessels and become more competitive in the region,” he adds.