As one of the world's top five thermal coal suppliers, South Africa ships more than half of its 67 million tonnes a year of exports to Asia, primarily China and India, but it remains a substantial exporter to Europe and, when the price is right, interest in shipping to Europe can be very high. South Africa is one of the most important swing suppliers in the market and very often price responses there provide a leading indicator of overall market direction. For buyers and traders in Europe, India and the rest of Asia, South Africa’s exports are a key component of the international supply.
At the same time, South Africa remains a developing economy and significant unrest across several mining sectors in 2012 make it clear that this crucial supply centre and market needs to be watched closely by international players. While the depreciation of the Rand has brought suppliers increased export margins over the last year, the challenges of raising living standards for a large and still recently empowered population remain high. Can South Africa’s mining sector continue to expand exports but at the same time sustain local demand and meet the expectations of the recently empowered?
Meanwhile the performance of South Africa’s transport network continues to improve. Transnet has been achieving shipment rates that would serve exports of well over 70mt/year recently and looks more capable than ever of hitting the 80mt-plus by 2015 target that has been discussed many times. At IHS McCloskey’s South African Coal Conference the prospects for further improvement in South Africa’s infrastructure will be examined vigorously. This is key not only to the development of South Africa’s mining industry but also to potential exporters in Sub-Sahara: Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia – The conference will provide an update on production & infrastructure throughout the sub-Sahara region, assessing the impact this has on the South African coal industry.