Michelle Phillips and Nosipho Maphumulo have been appointed in permanent executive roles within Transnet. The Minerals Council South Africa has congratulated the two executives and says it looks forward to continuing constructive engagements to stabilise the rail network and return it to nameplate capacity.

The Minerals Council says that it had worked well with Phillips in her acting CEO role, and based on its engagements to date with her, it expects to build on the good relationships it has established to continue collaborating to urgently address the challenges at the railways and ports, which are critical for the mining sector and the broader economy. Maphumulo has assumed her role as CFO.

The Minerals Council noted Phillips’s commitment to implementing the Transnet Recovery Plan, which includes sustainable co-operation with the private sector to improve operational efficiencies. Mining accounts for about 80% of Transnet Freight Rail’s annual revenue.

The Minerals Council and its bulk commodity members have welcomed the progress made in the National Logistics Crisis Committee under the leadership of the Presidency involving four corridor optimisation processes to urgently stabilise the performances of the railways serving the coal, chrome, iron ore and manganese mines.

Mining companies have increasingly resorted to road transport to export their products, which is far more expensive and inefficient than using trains. Trucking causes harm to the environment, communities, roads and creates additional safety risks. Returning bulk commodities to rail is a priority for the mining industry.

The Minerals Council, as part of the Business for South Africa team, is engaged in the NLCC where it has seen progress on the regulatory and policy front.

Cabinet’s approval of the Freight Logistics Roadmap and the Rail Private Sector Participation (PSP) framework in December 2023, and the establishment of an Interim Infrastructure manager by Transnet are significant developments in unlocking private sector participation in rail and port operations.

Green shoots are showing

In terms of private sector assistance, collaboration with Transnet under Mutual Co-operation Agreements enable customers to assist TFR with the procurement of spare parts, Richards Bay Coal Terminal procured batteries and compressors to improve the reliability of locomotives delivering coal from Limpopo and Mpumalanga to the privately owned terminal.

Sasol will fund the repairs and maintenance by Transnet Engineering of a fleet of 128 dedicated rail tankers to deliver ammonia to its customers from its Secunda and Sasolburg plants in a five-year contract with TFR.

A R47-billion guarantee facility for Transnet has been approved by the National Treasury, while the private sector has deployed technical experts to Transnet, which has implemented global best practices at its operations.

Source: Supplied by Minerals Council South Africa, edited by Sharyn Macnamara