In 2012, dry bulk exports from South Africa rose by 4.8% to 148.4mt (million tonnes), according to Transnet National Ports Authority. The previous year, these had risen by 6.8%, while in 2010 there had been a rise of 9%. Indeed, in 2012, before industrial action had been taken in the mining sector, the trend was for an increase of 9.2%.

Richards Bay led the way with a 5.2% increase in exports, which amounted to 80mt. At Saldanha, exports rose by 4.6% to 55.7mt, while at other ports exports rose by 3.4% to 12.6mt of overall, with the caveat that the first three quarters these were up by 13.7%.

In general, the majority of bulk exports go to China, India, Japan and South Korea.