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Transnet will begin talks this month on new medium- to long-term contracts and has lifted force majeure on nine coal exporters with which it had reached agreement.

The state-owned port and rail operator said it would “consider its options” regarding an unspecified number of other coal exporters with which it had yet to reach a deal, despite what it said were “good faith negotiations”.

Transnet declared force majeure in April after widespread theft of copper cables, insufficient maintenance, and a lack of locomotives that crippled the company’s freight rail network used by coal and iron ore miners to transport their minerals to port.

The provision frees both parties of contractual obligations because of exceptional circumstances.

“To date, nine of the CEPs (coal export parties) have signed the Deed of Amendment — this means that the force majeure on those parties has been lifted,” Transnet said in a statement published on Tuesday.

The rail utility did not identify the nine coal exporters and didn’t immediately respond to requests for additional information.

The new contracts under negotiation will replace existing ones, including long-term agreements that expire in March 2024



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