JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Transnet hopes to re-open on Saturday one of two closed coal export lines linking mines to the Richards Bay export terminal after it was closed following a train derailment, the state-run freight company said on Friday.

A preliminary investigation into the cause of the derailment points to sabotage, after the railway line was cut in half by a blow torch, Transnet Freight Rail said in a statement without elaborating.

The 200-wagon coal train derailed on Thursday.

A force majeure has been issued, the company said.

“Engineers and maintenance crew are working round the clock to re-rail the wagons and repair the line,” Transnet said.

“The estimated time of re-opening at least one of the two the lines is Saturday 22 December 2018.”

South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) exported a record 76.47 million tonnes of coal in 2017, and aims to export 77 million tonnes this year.

(By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by James Macharia)

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