Port of Richards Bay
Located around 160 kilometers northeast of Durban, the Port of Richards Bay was originally built in 1976 almost exclusively for the export of coal, but has long since expanded to cater for other bulk and break-bulk export cargos.
The idea for a port at Richards Bay was first investigated in 1843 by Commissioner Henry Cloete who, after surveying the Mhlatuze estuary, decided that it had 'little or no potential' as a harbor. Despite this negative assessment, the need for a port to handle the export of South African coal resulted in a harbor being built anyway. Before long, a dedicated railway line connecting the Richards Bay Port with the provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng was built and harbor operations came into full swing.
Today the port occupies roughly 2,157 hectares of land and 1,495 hectares of water, with space for expansion. Used primarily as an export terminal, the Port of Richards Bay handled 89 million tons of cargo in 2005, with indications that this volume will continue to increase. The port handles coal from KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga, as well as timber and granite from the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape. It also has rail links with Durban, Swaziland and Mozambique.