A little known innovation in the loading of Manganese Ore in the Port of Port Elizabeth is the skiptainer process where manganese ore is brought into the Port in containers and then loaded into ships. This is in addition to the Manganese Ore being loaded from the facility in the south of the harbour.
Concerns for the city of Nelson Mandela Bay are the fact that our roads around the Port are getting dirtier and dirtier as these container carrying vehicles drive in and out of the Port plus the additional tons of manganese ore being loaded add to the dust pollution extending out to sea and reaching suburbs inland as far as Richmond Hill.
A colleague boasted to me once as we were sailing into the Port saying; “You can now stop moaning about the Manganese Ore as this new skiptainer method is almost dust free!” In answer I pointed to the ship being loaded and the plume of dust being blown toward the harbour wall. Silence.
In a press release today Transnet Port Terminals boasts of having identified the upward trend for the demand and supply of Manganese saying; “Having identified this industry growth in 2013 based on these world trends, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) collaborated with a key stakeholder and client in the mining sector in an effort to significantly increase the export of additional volumes of manganese.”
According to TPT’s PE Terminal Manager, Nelisiwe Mbenekazi, the skiptainer solution has proven a successful method in meeting the rising demand while supporting the South African economy.
Admitting that the Manganese Ore Dust Suppression System (DSS) did not work and polluted the area Nelisiwe Mbenekazi said; “We have come a long way since the teething issues we experienced when implementing this handling method with the first vessel and one of the highlights has been an in-house innovation to control the dust excess that we were experiencing despite the DSS in place.”
Since the loading of the first vessel using the skiptainer method, TPT have improved their loading turnaround time from vessels staying for 8 days (in December 2013) to more recently achieving an average of vessels only staying for three days. Mbenekazi was proud to point out that their best vessel turnaround to date has been two days and the number of vessels they service has increased from one a month to three or four.
As handlers of this cargo we question why the ratepayers of Nelson Mandela Bay are burdened with cleaning up and fixing the road network AND being subjected to more unwelcome manganese ore dust. As one of my good mates told me once; “Alan, the problem is not the Manganese Ore!” It was only later that I realised how disingenuous that answer was and how right he was – the problem is the DUST!
If we were in a litigious society everyone affected by the DUST would have joined together in a class action against this continued assault of our constitutional right which is stated in Section 24 as; “Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.”