Merensky opens distribution centre at Durban port

May 12, 2023
The Merensky log yard at Prospecton, Durban, from where round logs and sawn lumber are packed in containers and shipped to customers around the world.

Merensky Timber has opened a new distribution centre and log yard in Prospecton, close to the Port of Durban, from where it exports round logs and sawn lumber sourced from its plantations and sawmills in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. The centre also serves as a distribution facility for a wide range of imported timber boards and other products that it supplies to customers around South Africa.

The primary aim of establishing the log yard and warehouse, according to Export Manager Tinus Oosthuizen, is to give the Merensky team more control over the logistics chain involved in getting round logs and sawn lumber from source to their customers around the world. It’s about customer service and managing the flow of round logs and sawn timber better, he said.

According to Tinus, between 26 000 and 30 000 tons of round logs are being exported through the log yard and Port of Durban every month. Around 95% of the round log export volumes are pine saw logs sourced from their Weza, Singisi and Langeni plantations. The other 5% are Eucalyptus saw logs sourced from Merensky’s Northern Timbers plantations in Limpopo province.

The main markets for the round log exports are in Vietnam, India and China.

Merensky is also using these facilities to export 1 500 to 2 000 cubic metres of kiln-dried pine and Eucalyptus sawn lumber to Indian Ocean islands like Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion and Maldives.

This powerful machine lifts a shipping container loaded with around 28 tons of round logs bound for the far east.

Tinus says that they sell the entire stem of the harvested tree which is cut into various lengths according to customer requirements. Each shipment includes various log classes, from the large diameter butt log to the smaller diameter logs near the tip of the stem. The logs are transported from plantation to the Durban log yard in long-haul trucks. Bell loaders are used to stack the logs in the yard, from where they are loaded into shipping containers for the next leg of their journey.

Merensky has pioneered and perfected the process of producing high quality hardwood lumber in their Northern Timbers sawmill from Eucalyptus trees grown over 20 year rotations in their Limpopo plantations. The demand for this hardwood lumber is growing and is being used in a wide variety of applications.

Merensky’s Sales and Marketing Executive Manager Mark Frey (left) and Export Manager Tinus Oosthuizen at the company’s Durban distribution centre.

All the round logs and timber produced by Merensky is FSC chain-of-custody certified, and all the sawn timber that is imported is certified either by FSC or PEFC, says Merensky’s Executive Manager for Sales and Marketing, Mark Frey.

Imported timber includes the following:-
• Okoume from Gabon
• Rubber wood from Vietnam
• Spruce from Europe
• Balou, meranti and melunak (like African mahogany) from Malaysia
• Red and white oak, maple and ash from the USA

Merensky Timber is a leading player in forestry and lumber processing with over 65 000 ha of pine and Eucalyptus plantations – the largest privately owned commercial plantations managed on saw log rotation in South Africa. The company operates three sawmills in Langeni (Eastern Cape), Weza (southern KZN) and Tzaneen (Limpopo).

Pine species grown in Merensky plantations include P. patula, P. eliottii and P. taeda. Eucalypts are primarily E. grandis.

Eucalyptus lumber produced at Merensky’s Tzaneen sawmill.
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