Iron ore by the containerload to Saldanha made news during June.
“This historic event was preceded by meticulous planning and a number of activities. The logistics solution offered to the customer included transferring 160 empty containers from the Port of Ngqura to Lohatlha station. Lohatlha lies approximately midway between Postmasburg and Sishen in the Northern Cape. On Tuesday 12 June a train consisting of 80 CMR wagons loaded with 160 plate-rated export containers pulled into the station. A reach stacker and mobile weighbridge were also dispatched to Lohatlha, as well as staff from TFR’s containers and automotive business unit (CAB). In fact, the logistics around this project involved a number of people from amongst others Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Upington, Postmasburg, Sishen and Saldanha.
“The project’s success depended on the seamless collaboration between various internal departments such as operations, resource management & MIS, Transnet Port Terminals, rail network and commercial, as well as a number of external service providers.
“By Thursday 14 June, empty containers were offloaded from the train onto road vehicles for the 36km journey to the mine. At the mine, a small front-end loader (Bobcat) was used to load 27.5 tons of iron ore into each container. By Friday afternoon, the first loaded containers arrived back at Lohatlha station. Throughout the weekend the teams worked loading the containers onto the train. Shortly after lunch on Sunday, the first 40-wagon train was ready. Loading of containers onto the second 40-wagon train continued into the night.
“On Monday morning the team arrived at Lohatlha to complete the job. By midday, all containers were loaded onto the second train. The load was inspected, brake tests performed and the train departed for Sishen. Later that same day, both 40-wagon trains were shunted together and the train technology department performed locomotive compressor tests.
“Tuesday morning 19 June saw the departure of train 2315 from Sishen. This was the first time that an 80-wagon SMR train had run on the ore line – and the first time ever that export iron ore was moved to Saldanha in containers! The train arrived at Salkor yard in the afternoon of Wednesday, 20 June and was offloaded at the port of Saldanha the following day.”