Richards Bay

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Richards Bay
Richards Bay (Südafrika)
Richards Bay (28° 48′ 0″ S, 32° 6′ 0″O)
Richards Bay

Coordinates 28° 48′ S, 32° 6′ OCoordinates 28° 48′ S, 32° 6′ O
Basic data
State South Africa


District King Cetshwayo
Community uMhlathuze
Height 9 m
Inhabitants 57.387 (2011)
Foundation 1879
Special features:
Port city
Richards Bay
Richards Bay

Richards Bay (Afrikaans: Richardsbaai) is a town in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. It is part of the uMhlathuze municipality in the King Cetshwayo district.The population was 44,852 in 2001 and 57,387 in 2011.[1][2] The town is situated on the Indian Ocean at about sea level.[3] The cargo port of Port Richards Bay is located here.

Richards Bay was founded as a port by Sir Frederick Richards in 1879 during the First Boer War. Richards was the namesake of the town.[4] In 1969 Richards Bay was given city status.[5]



In Richards Bay, the port with its industrial facilities and tourism are particularly important economic factors. Near the lagoon of Richards Bay, dunes of heavy mineral sands with titanium ore content (ilmenite) are mined.[5]

The port facilities are among the largest in the world. On land, the area covers 2157 hectares plus 1495 hectares of water.[6]

In 1968, it was decided to provide the port with an inland rail link as the expansion of industrial facilities progressed under the apartheid government’s Border Industry policy. A line was consequently planned as far as Empangeni.[7] In 1976, the port was developed into a deep-water port with a train connection and an oil and gas pipeline to Johannesburg.[8]

The administrative headquarters of the national water supplier Mhlathuze Water is located in Richards Bay.

Coal terminal and its transport links

The port’sRichards Bay Coal Terminal began operating on 1 April 1976 and is the world’s largest coal loading facility. It owes its creation to long-term contracts between South African coal mines and the Japanese steel industry.[9][10]

Over a long period of time, the railway links from the interior to the port developed into very efficient transport routes of great importance to the national economy of South Africa. Between 1946 and 1950, sections were built from Ogies to Broodsnyersplaas. In the 1970s South Africa continued to plan and build on the Richards Bay Coal Line Project, with the aim of transporting coal from Mpumalanga to a dedicated South African port. Prior to this, ship loading had preferably been possible at the Portuguese-administered Lourenço Marques. When Mozambique became independent in 1975, this transport route had become politically insecure for South Africa.[11]

Today (2013), the 580 kilometre double track Richards Bay Coal Line runs from the coal mining areas of the Witbank region to Richards Bay via Blackhill, Ogies, Ermelo, Piet Retief and Vryheid East. The railway line required the construction of 137 bridges and 37 tunnels.[12] The South African freight transport division Transnet Freight Rail of the state-owned company Transnet planned a further expansion of the supply lines in 2010 with a budget of 15.4 billion rand.[13]

Aluminium industry

There is an aluminium smelter near the port.[5] The production of aluminium is based on the import of bauxite, because South Africa has no such deposits. Since 1971, the company ALUSAF, a creation of the Industrial Development Corporation, has been importing the necessary raw material from Australia.[14]

Phosphate industry and its transport links

Triomf Kunsmis began processing phosphate feedstock sourced from Phalaborwa into phosphoric acid in Richards Bay in 1976. Triomf became Indian Ocean Fertiliser (IOF) in 1984, which was gradually bought out by FOSKOR, the main South African producer of phosphate products, from 1987 onwards, operating under the name Foskor Richards Bay in 2001. It produces phosphoric acid and phosphate granules made from diammonium phosphate (DAP) and monoammonium phosphate (MAP) for fertilizers, as well as sulfuric acid. The main consumer countries of the products are India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Bangladesh and Dubai. Today (2013), 84 percent of the phosphate concentrates processed at Phalaborwa reach Richards Bay.[15][16] The plant employed over 600 people in 2010.[17]

The connection of the mining area around Phalaborwa with Richards Bay via an eastern running railway line required a new line construction within Eswatini, which resulted in individual sections as a consequence of the political development in southern Africa. A few years after Mozambique’s independence and after the beginning of the Mozambican Civil War, the first section of the line between the South African border town of eGolela, with a connection to the South African railway network, to a railway junction at Phuzumoya about 6 kilometres east of Siphofaneni in Eswatini was built on 1 November 1978. Here, a previously constructed section of line, which once allowed trains to continue across the eastern border into Mozambique, led north.

The necessary and previously missing northern section of the line branched off the old railway line a few kilometres north of the village of Mpaka and now ran to near the South African border at Tshaneni, continuing parallel with the Lebombobergen Mountains and a section of the South Africa-Mozambique border to Komatipoort. It went into service on 14 February 1986. At Komatipoort, it was reconnected to the previous South African network at this time. Since the opening of this section of the Eswatini Railways network (until 2018 Swaziland Railway), economic goods from the north, for example from Zimbabwe, Zambia and the eastern parts of South Africa, can be transported to the ports of Richards Bay and Durban.[18]


Tourism is also an important source of income. Many opportunities for nature sports are offered, including surfing and fishing. In addition, Richards Bay is in close proximity to Zululand with its many cultural and natural attractions.[4]

Another important recreational facility is the Richards Bay Game Reserve. The game park is located in a lagoon and provides shelter for waterfowl, hippos and crocodiles, and other animals that were heavily hunted before the park was established.[4] The park’s biodiversity continues to grow, especially among birds. The lagoon is also an important spawning ground for many fish.[19]

In 2012 the Science Center Unizul received permanently the exhibition Weltenbummel (2003) of the Graz Children’s Museum Frida und Fred.[20]

Daughters and sons of the city

  • Heidi Dalton (* 1995), cyclist

Web links

Commons: Richards Bay– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Census 2001 Richards Bay Part 1, Census 2001 Richards Bay Part 2, Census 2001 Richards Bay Part 3 (added), retrieved May 5, 2013
  2. Census 2011, retrieved 17 November 2013
  3. Data on Richards Bay at Falling Rain Genomics (English), retrieved 29 August 2011.
  4. a b c Richards Bay.SA Places, retrieved 30 August 2011 (English).
  5. a b c Richards Bay Homepage – Information and History.KZN North Coast Happenings, accessed 1 September 2011 (English).
  6. Mpumalanga to Richards Bay Freight Coal Line, South Africa. at
  7. SAIRR: A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1968. Johannesburg 1969, p. 101.
  8. Welcom.Richards Bay Coal Terminal, retrieved 1 September 2011 (English).
  9. John Barwell: Richards Bay line breaks weekly coal record. In: International Railway Journal, 12 August 2012 online edition
  10. Web presence of the Richards Bay Coal Terminal.
  11. Mpumalanga Province, Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport: Mpumalanga Province Freight Data Bank. Historical Development. at
  12. Willem Kuys: Heavy Haul Operations in South Africa. Conference presentation 19 June 2011. at of 21 October 2013 in the Internet Archive) (PDF; 3.4 MB)
  13. R15.4 billion expansion for Richards Bay coal line. In: Mining, October 28, 2010. at Link/ no longer available, search web archives ) Info: Thelink was automatically marked as broken. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
  14. Ernst Klimm, Karl-Günther Schneider, Bernd Weise: Das südliche Afrika. Wissenschaftliche Länderkunden; Vol. 17. Wiss. Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1980, p. 152 ISBN 3-534-04132-1
  15. FOSKOR: History – key milestones. at (English)(Memento of 26 March 2016 in the Internet Archive).
  16. FOSKOR: About us. at (English)(Memento of 27 September 2015 in the Internet Archive).
  17. FOSKOR: At a glance. at (English)(Memento of 27 September 2015 in the Internet Archive).
  18. Eswatini Railway History of Eswatini Railway. at (English).
  19. Richards Bay Game Reserve, KwaZulu, retrieved 1 September 2011 (English).
  20. Press retrieved 3 January 2021.