SA’s iron ore miners have welcomed the earlier-than-expected reopening of their sole link to export markets via the port at Saldanha after Transnet fixed the 860km railway line ahead of schedule. What could have been a month-long shutdown was cut to just nine days, winning rare plaudits from miners in the Northern Cape whose finances rest heavily on Transnet Freight Rail’s performance in moving millions of tons of iron ore and manganese to the coast.

"You are talking to a very impressed customer of Transnet right now," said Andre Joubert, CEO of JSE-listed African Rainbow Minerals’ ferrous division. After the initial gloom that set in on hearing of the rail bridge badly damaged by a truck on November 28, Joubert said he was taken aback by the intense level of engagement by Transnet, which kept him appraised every six hours on progress to replace the bridge and return the line to full use. By the time the first truck arrived in an emergency contingency plan to collect a load of...

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