Harare – Singapore-headquartered conglomerate Trafigura wants to expand its footprint in Southern Africa, after its logistics business Impala Terminals recorded strong demand in the region in 2020.
Impala says the flow of business in Angola, the DRC, South Africa and Zambia last year had encouraged it to expand operations in the region.
The group had annual profits exceeding US$1,5 billion in 2020, and not it wants to reposition the business to handle bigger export volumes in Southern Africa.
“Impala Terminals’ African assets in Zambia and the DRC had a busy year with business expanding briskly, including the growth of traditional copper export flows and newer import volumes, principally chemicals for use in the growing African mining industry,” said Mr Andrea Olivi, head of wet freight shipping, in a statement accompanying financial results.
“Impala established new office and storage space in the Ndola and Kolwezi warehouses in Zambia and the DRC, respectively. Furthermore, it increased regular bi-directional rail services to ports in Angola, South Africa and Tanzania. In 2021, Impala will continue to focus on growing volumes and its import business.”
Underlying expansion is sharper demand for the shipment, handling and exportation of cobalt from the DRC, whose market fundamentals remained robust throughout 2020.
“In 2020, we saw a continued drop in artisanal supply from the DRC as well as pandemic-related supply cuts from nickel operations producing cobalt as a by-product. In addition to the growing demand for EV batteries, cobalt consumption was supported by the shift to 5G that continues to gain pace in China and the subsequent increase in average cobalt loadings in smartphone batteries, which negates the impact of the recent drop in phone sales,” said Mr Olivi.
Demand was also high in copper0rich Zambia, the company said.
Impala Terminals operates port, logistical, storage and transportation assets that support Trafigura’s commodity trading business in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.