Kemcore has received the first batch of Sulphuric Acid Tankers as it steps up efforts to increase its rail capacity, to supply sulphuric acid to its clients in Zambia and the DRC. Kemcore, a Hong Kong-based company, with offices in South Africa & Zambia has announced that its newly leased Sulphuric Acid Rail Tank Wagons have passed the inspection at the Germiston wagon depot of Transnet Engineering. The inspection was conducted and completed on 16 November 2018 by Michael Howard, an independent “Engineering Consultant”.
The newly acquired sulphuric acid rail tank wagons will join Kemcore's existing 90 acid wagons, which already include 30 TFR XPJ Tanker Wagons and 60 ISO tank wagons
"The wagons were all converted by the same production line, in the same batch and with the same material and quality standards, from XPJ-10 fuel tankers to sulphuric acid tankers designated RLSLJ-1. As such, they are all of the same specification and quality, and in similar condition. “ read the inspection report .
The conversion scope consisted of:
- Installation of a ‘slosh plate’ to reduce longitudinal movement of the liquid load inside the tank
- Installation of new T Long Neck Bottom Discharge Valves*
- Installation of an air brake system (the wagons are now equipped with dual vacuum and air brakes)
- Refurbishment of running gear components, namely Saskop couplers and draw gear, brake gear components and Spoorbarber bogies
“Kemcore's ability and capacity to rail sulphuric acid from South Africa is a first for the region and positions the company as one of the only companies to do so in the Copperbelt region. Kemcore is now able to rail 8000 tons per month of sulphuric acid to off-take partners in the region.”. Kemcore said in a statement on Monday.
"With this milestone achievement, the company is now finalizing contracts for delivery of acid in 2019," the company said.
Sulphuric acid, used in the leaching of copper has been in short supply since 2017. The region is heavily dependant on supply from Zambian based copper smelters and sulfur burning. The 2019 outlook for supply is very tight as it‘s becoming expensive for the local smelters to acquire concentrates. This is also exacerbated by the introduction of sales tax by the Zambia government. Moreover, there are more than 100,000 tons per annum of demand from new operations expected to commence in 2019.
The price of imported sulphuric acid from South Africa via road truck tankers is prohibitively very expensive at above $600/ton. It may become uneconomical as the price of copper and cobalt go down. Cobalt prices have dropped more than 25% since a peak in April amid growing concerns that too much supply has been brought online in response to surging prices. Last week Glencore warned that some buyers in China reneged on contracts after seeing prices plunge, forcing the company to renegotiate the commercial terms of the deals.
Miners will be forced to seek cheaper alternative sources of acid. The railing of acid brings the cost down by at least 10% which can lead to millions of dollars in savings. " Frankly, any sulphuric acid buyers of those firms are negligent at this point if they are not pushing for the cheaper rail option," said Calisto Radithipa, the Chief Commercial Officer.
Kemcore is the leading mining chemical provider in China and Hong Kong, with customers in the mining and water treatment industries. Our focus is on the consistent supply of quality mining chemicals to improve our customers’ performance rates and profitability.