South African thermal coal producer Thungela Resources said an extended strike at Transnet would impact its coal exports. Late last week, the United National Transport Union rejected a wage deal proposed by Transnet and its employees walked out on strike, which has affected rail services.

The strike will likely disrupt the coal operator’s ability to transport coal to Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) and RCBT’s ability to load ships. “Rail constraints over recent months have resulted in relatively high stockpile levels on our operations,” Thungela said in a statement. “In the event of a protracted strike extending two weeks, we would be forced to curtail production, with the potential resultant impact being a reduction of up to 300,000 metric tons (mt) of export saleable production.”

RBCT operates independently of Transnet and should be able to continue loading vessels, subject to Transnet continuing to provide services required for berthing and unberthing, such as tugboat pilots.

In light of previous security issues experienced on the coal corridor, where thieves stole rail and electrical cables, Thungela is working with Transnet and other coal exporting parties to deploy additional security measures on the line. These include intensified helicopter surveillance, heightened focus on depots and an increase in the number of reaction teams on the ground.

The company expects its saleable export production to be between 13-13.6 million mt this year, having reduced the target from 14-15 million mt earlier this year.