"In Africa, Impala Terminals operates a portfolio of safe and efficient warehouses and port terminals in the DRC, Zambia and Tanzania, which provide handling, storage and other related services for both bonded and non-bonded cargoes. Impala Terminals also provides multimodal end-to-end delivery and supply chain solutions for imports and exports."
Can you give a brief overview of Impala Terminals and the company’s presence in Africa?
Nicolas Konialidis (NK): Impala Terminals was formed in 2010 as part of commodity trading firm the Trafigura Group. Originally established to provide multimodal warehouse and logistics services for the trade flows of the Group, Impala Terminals has quickly grown to be present in 20 countries, with 28 operational sites. We have a particularly strong presence in the Americas and sub Saharan Africa and now serve both Trafigura and third party clients.
In 2018, we sold a 50% stake in part of the business to global fund manager IFM Investors. This joint venture includes operations in Spain, Peru, Mexico, Paraguay and an asset light operation for the movement of goods in sub-Saharan Africa, along with a global freight forwarding service.
In Africa, Impala Terminals operates a portfolio of safe and efficient warehouses and port terminals in the DRC, Zambia and Tanzania, which provide handling, storage and other related services for both bonded and non-bonded cargoes. Impala Terminals also provides multimodal end-to-end delivery and supply chain solutions for imports and exports. This is achieved via our road and rail networks, combined with ocean container freight forwarding services.
In Africa, how big a part of Impala Terminal’s business is constituted by the mining industry and what are some trends in demands from the sector?
Craig Mynhardt (CM): Approximately 85 to 90% of Impala Terminal’s business in Africa relates to mining. As for trends in demand, many mines in the Copper Belt today are built with the EPCM (engineering, procurement and construction management) delivery model, which has led to a shift in the way logistics are procured. Materials for each build need to be transported from different parts of the world, leading to project cargo opportunities for Impala Terminals to balance import and export flows. Once a mine has been commissioned, we have the opportunity to provide import logistics solutions for materials used for infrastructure maintenance and various chemicals that are used in the mine’s production as well as exporting the mined products. In summary, we transport metals, minerals, chemicals, project cargo and general cargo using our rail and road connected terminals and infrastructure located on the main trade route intersections from Dar es Salaam, Beira, Durban, Richards Bay, Walvis Bay and Lobtio.
NK: When Impala Terminals first started business in Africa, the main objective was to fill the logistical gap between the smelters and cathode production plants and the market, as well as offer reliable, safe and secure warehouse storage. Our role in the mining industry has evolved at a pace with the industry. There has been and continues to be an enormous influx of capex and project cargo in addition to demand for maintenance products and general equipment. The increase in exports has also created a greater need for the services we offer.
In terms of freight forwarding, what are the major challenges operating in Africa?
CM: Regulatory and political uncertainty are factors that disrupt the flow of logistics while increasing operational risk. In addition, volatile or unclear taxation systems can result in border delays for imports and exports. Another challenge is the insufficient number of entry and exit points into the DRC in particular, which causes bottlenecks in the logistics chain.
NK: Security threats from the mine to market are an ever present challenge, which brings additional costs to our operations and the entire supply chain. To manage and mitigate risks we need to constantly adapt and evolve how we do business, in tandem with the environment in which we operate.
What transnational corridors are being developed or improved on the African continent?
CM: In the next year and over the following five years, the historic trade export corridor from the DRC across Angola to the port of Lobito will be firmly re-established. Impala Terminals is already transporting cargo along the corridor and is well-positioned in Angola. We’re enthusiastic about this development as the new export corridor exploits existing national rail infrastructure, removes trucks from the roads and offers an alternative route to market.
What is the future for Impala Terminals in Africa?
CM: One goal is to grow the volume of our import tons, matching ton for ton our imports with our exports volume. We already have the infrastructure, technology and processes in place to support this goal, while continuing to operate at the highest standards of safety and security to continue to be market leaders.
NK: Impala Terminals has a unique footprint in Africa and is already advanced in its efforts to unlock the potential of rail infrastructure. This will become an important factor as export tons from the Copperbelt increase, putting more pressure on an already overburdened road infrastructure. Within five years we also plan to diversify our services and cargo types, while expanding our geographical footprint. We believe that we’re on the right track!