The port of Richard’s Bay commemorated its 40th anniversary on Friday, 1 April.

Established in 1976 for the purpose of transporting locally-mined coal to international shores, the port has expanded to include a variety of exports. Today it routinely handles a diverse mix of commodities: magnetite, chrome ore, alumina, coking coal and ferro alloys in addition to coal.

“When you consider that this area was once perceived to lack potential as a harbour, the rise of the port and the town as a whole, becomes that much more remarkable. The success of the port over these past 40 years demonstrates the capabilities of the country and our ports in providing a system of growth that is beneficial to the surrounding communities, promoting careers and business opportunities in the maritime industry,” says chief executive of Transnet National Ports Authority, Richard Vallihu.

Its existence has led to the creation of other industries within Richards Bay, providing thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities for the people of the city and in turn, transforming the small fishing village into an industrial hub, while supporting big businesses such as the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, BHP Billiton, Richards Bay Minerals and Foskor.

During the 2010-2011 financial period the port broke through the R1 billion turnover mark for the first time and during the 2015/2016 financial year, handled 99.229 million tons of bulk and break bulk cargo.

“The continued success of the Port of Richards Bay will be dependent upon partnerships with business and the community – we see this landmark anniversary as a means through which these relationships can be strengthened,” says Preston Khomo, Richards Bay Port Manager.

Future planning at the port is in line with the South African government’s National Growth Plan and in particular, its Operation Phakisa initiative.