State-owned transportation company TransNamib has revived their Aus to Lüderitz trail after 20 years, with the first commercial trip made early this month.
This was revealed by TransNamib's commercial and marketing executive, Hippy Tjivikua, in a press release on Friday.
"This was the first major movement of cargo on this route, especially after the rehabilitation and upgrade of the railway line between Aus and Lüderitz, which has not been operational since 1998," he stated.
Tjivikua said about 520 tonnes of Northern Cape manganese were trans-shipped from Ariamsvlei to Lüderitz on 2 August, and offloaded the next day. The transport company Tradeport Namibia had approached them in 2018 to ship bulk manganese from the Northern Cape in South Africa by rail to the port of Lüderitz for export to various overseas international markets.
"This is part of the solution to provide the required pit-to-port logistics solution, and they gave an undertaking to provide a minimum of 30 000 metric tonnes of manganese concentrate per month for this route," he added.
The rate offer made to the customer by Transnamib was concluded in May this year, and negotiations included stakeholders such as Namport, the Ministry of Works and Transport, as well as the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
The Namibian reported in January this year that the transportation to Lüderitz could have environmental impacts, which Tjivikua said had been taken care of.
"With the issuing of their environmental clearance certificate (ECC), which compelled the customer to have enclosed storage warehouses at both Ariamsvlei and Lüderitz, preparations were afoot to start with the very first rail shipment of the manganese, pulled by two multiple locomotives with 20 wagons loaded with 26 tonnes each of manganese due to current railway infrastructure limitations," he explained.
TransNamib has thus recruited more than 150 people since the start of the project, and a number of spin-off business activities are expected to be generated out of this new business venture at Ariamsvlei, Keetmanshoop, Aus and Lüderitz.
Manganese is a transition metal used to deoxidise steel and desulfurise, and it is also used in steel production, cooldrink cans, and dry cell batteries.