Since this article was first published, the South African port authority has said it is looking to reserve Durban port for the shipment of essential goods only, revoking the statement by the country’s maritime authority to allow processing of metals cargoes during the 21-day lockdown, Fastmarkets has learned. See link for latest update.

According to Marine Notice No21 of 2020, dated March 31, all cargoes can be loaded and offloaded at all ports of the country during the 21-day lockdown period, which started on March 23. 

The new announcement issued by South African Maritime Safety Authority came after last week's announcement by the Port of Durban - the busiest port in sub-Saharan Africa - that it would not allow any metal exports, including cobalt and copper goods.

The move led to month-long delivery delays to Asia, with copper products from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia - the two biggest copper-producing countries in Africa - being diverted to Beira Port in Mozambique, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Walvis Bay port in Namibia.

“While things are clear now on portside operations, [it would be useful if] transit and cross-border cargo movements from other African countries into South Africa were automatically, equally allowed,” an African producer source said.