Copper miners from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo turned to Dar es Salaam for their exports after South Africa imposed a strict three-week national lockdown that began March 27, Reuters reported April 7, citing an unnamed official in Tanzania's capital.
South African authorities initially said that the country's ports would only process essential commodities during the lockdown period, but the Department of Transport then said April 3 that the ports remain open to all kinds of cargo.
The miners did not wait for the Department of Transport's announcement and had already changed their export destination, according to the newswire.
"The moment the lockdown happened, all the trucks on their way to South Africa were basically stopped and offloaded at a warehouse in Zambia," the official said. "Then all the documentation was changed and they started the journey to Dar," he added, noting that the city is being considered as an alternate reliable solution if conflicting guidelines for South African ports remain unclear.
The official said that copper cathodes and copper concentrate exports through Dar spiked by about 20% to 25%.
The report mentioned that Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow said that the company is exporting its copper concentrate from its Zambia-based Lumwana mine through Dar and Walvis Bay, as local refineries that usually receive its concentrate are closed.
A Zambian logistics source, meanwhile, said that China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co. Ltd., which operates the Deziwa and Chambishi mines, is also exporting its products through Walvis Bay. A manager from CNMC said that the company's business in Africa might look for a port in Namibia if the South African ports' logistics issues persist, according to the report.
The newswire said that despite the influx of cargoes received by ports like Dar, Beira and Walvis Bay, the situation is detrimental to Mozambique's Maputo Port Development Company SARL, according to its CEO Osorio Lucas.
Lucas said that the port would normally receive 500 trucks of chrome per day from South African mines, but these trucks disappeared as soon as the border was closed. The port continues to export stockpiles from South Africa despite having no available replenishment, the newswire reported.
The logistics source in Dar, meanwhile, expressed concern on the longevity of the logistics boost amid dwindling copper prices.
"I believe I will have a very good year here in Dar. But the challenge is if copper prices go down too much, and the mines go into care and maintenance," he said.