Ports and Harbours

Assmang exports from four of the eight commercial ports on the 2954km South African coastline. These ports are all controlled and managed by Transnet National Ports Authority, a division of the government owned Transnet Limited. Transnet Port Terminals, another Transnet business unit, provides the cargo handling and logistics services to the ports.

Saldanha Bay

Situated on the West Coast of South Africa some 60 nautical miles northwest of Cape Town at Latitude 33º 2′ S and Longitude 17º 5′ E Saldanha is the largest natural, deep-water port in South Africa. The Saldanha terminal has an average draft of 17.5m with the ability to accommodate both Panamax and Cape-sized vessels.

The port has a 990m long jetty with two iron ore berths linked to the shore along a 3.1km long causeway/breakwater. All iron ore exported is railed to the Saldanha marshalling yards where three rakes of 114 rail wagons are shunted through to the port for tippling, conveying and stacking on to the designated stockpile storage areas. When loading vessels at the Saldanha Bay Iron Ore terminal, the ore is reclaimed from the stockpile storage areas onto the vessel via a conveyor system that also runs through a sampling plant – where samples are drawn automatically for lab analyses of the loaded ore to be done. The terminal utilises a two-line conveyor belt system supplying two ship loaders. Although there are two ore berths, one vessel is loaded at a time at a rate of up to 10,000mt per hour.

Saldanha Bay port is also a major Manganese ore export port, via the 4 berths at the multi purpose terminal.

Assmang Limited Saldanha Office
In 2012, Assmang opened a site office at the port of Saldanha. The primary function of this office is to co-ordinate, align and manage the Assmang Iron Ore supply chain, from mine to port. This includes, but is not limited to, the managing of incoming and outgoing iron ore stock, alignment of the sales and shipping program, liaising with port personnel employed by Transnet, both the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) divisions to ensure that the supply chain is managed optimally, and that the interests of Assmang Limited are looked after. In addition, the office is also responsible for the managing of domestic iron ore dispatches, supplied from Assmang Limited’s Beeshoek Iron Ore Mine to local steel mills and other end users.

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth has been an important port on the South Africa east coast ever since the first British settlers began arriving from 1820. Today it is a multi cargo port on the western perimeter of Algoa Bay, 384 nautical miles southwest of Durban and 423 nautical miles east of Cape Town at Longitude 25º 42′ E, Latitude 34º 01′ S.

A large portion of Assmang’s Manganese ore is exported through Port Elizabeth. On arrival at the port, trains are split up and rail wagons shunted into the ore terminal marshalling yard. Here various wagon loads are split up per grade and shunted to the rail wagon tipplers where the ore is channelled by the two-line interconnecting conveyor belt system to allocated storage bins, or loaded directly to the vessel.

There are four storage bins with a total capacity of about 460 000mt. When ore is loaded, the reclaimers are positioned alongside the required grades to extract it from the bins back onto the conveyor system, where it travels through the products sampler and on to the ship loaders.

Despite there being two ore berths generally only one vessel is accommodated and loaded at a time at a load rate of 800 tons per hour. The permissible sailing draft is 12m.


Since 1840 Durban has grown to become Africa’s busiest general cargo port. It is situated on the East Coast of South Africa, 680 nautical miles northeast of Cape Agulhas on a longitude of 31º 02’ E and Latitude of 29º 52′ S.

Durban port has 58 berths and is South Africa’s main general cargo and container port. It consists of bulk handling facilities, multipurpose terminals, ro-ro as well as container terminals. A total of 302km of rail tracks extends throughout the port area along with several major marshalling yards.

Durban Container Terminal (DCT)
Africa’s biggest and busiest container terminals rank among the top in the world.
Assmang utilises the services of various world class containerisation facilities in close proximity to the DCT. Material from the operations is road hauled to these facilities where it is stuffed in containers. Once the containers are packed, it is road hauled to the DCT stacking yard where it awaits loading.

Richards Bay

Richards Bay is South Africa’s premier bulk port and most modern. Built in 1976 for the export of coal, it has since expanded into other bulk and break-bulk cargoes. Situated at Longitude 32º 02′ E and Latitude 28º 48′ S, Richards Bay is located on the Northern Kwazulu Natal coast, 87 nautical miles northeast of Durban and 252 nautical miles southwest of Maputo.

There are currently 21 berths in service including those at the privately operated Richards Bay Coal Terminal. The port has extensive rail and conveyor belt systems servicing the berths from nearby factories and plants.

Richards Bay consists of a Dry Bulk Terminal, a Multi Purpose Terminal and the privately operated Coal Terminal. Other private operators within the port include several wood chip export terminals and a bulk liquid terminal.

Assmang’s ferromanganese and ferrochrome is either railed or road hauled to the port’s dedicated storage areas and loaded by a skip loading operation at the port’s Multipurpose Terminal.