South African logistics group Transnet has continued with plans to rail 65 million tons of export coal this year despite a three week strike that crippled ports and railways, its acting chief executive said.

“We still believe and are planning for a significant growth in volumes compared to last year and would hope we do in the area of 65 million tons (of export coal), so it’s still in our plans going forward,” Acting Chief Executive Chris Wells told reporters.

South Africa’s railways and ports have been paralysed by a three-week strike, which ended, and Transnet said it would take weeks to clear the backlogs at ports. It may take up to three months to get the rail freight unit operating at levels seen before the strike, the group said.

Wells said Transnet had conducted maintenance on the coal rail line during the weeks of the strike, which had lessened the impact.

South Africa is a major exporter of coal to power stations in Europe and Asia. Coal exporters have blamed Transnet in the past for failing to rail enough coal to the terminal due to bottlenecks on the rail line and an ageing fleet.

South Africa exported 61 million tons of coal last year, and Transnet said it could rail up to 65-70 million tonnes this year, but after the strike the industry said the target was too ambitious and that even 60 million tons may be unlikely. (Reuters)