Mzimela said Transnet was open to miners investing in their own rolling stock, as well as allowing private rail operators to run on some container route slots. But it does not plan to open its iron ore and coal lines to private firms.
That falls short of what mining firms, who are helping to fund private security to combat theft along rail lines, want.
Menar said it was pushing to invest in state-owned rail lines and procure its own locomotives and wagons as part of attempts to overcome the country's infrastructure bottleneck.
Hallatt told Reuters that Menar would also consider operating a section of the bulk commodity rail lines, although that's an option Transnet's Mzimela rejects.
Since the security collaboration started, the number of drones monitoring the coal line from Mpumalanga to Richards Bay has more than doubled and incidents have fallen to about 19 a week from 35 previously, according to Transnet.
The copper cables carrying electricity from substations along the line to signalling systems are regularly stolen, for example, as well as other metal parts along the track.
For the first time, SA was ranked among the 10 least attractive jurisdictions for mining investment in the Fraser Institute's annual mining industry survey last year.
Gabrielle Reid, associate director for strategic intelligence at S-RM, said the logistical challenges were now prompting some SA miners to look outside the country for growth opportunities.
“Our most recent experiences with rail in SA make for a compelling diversification case,” July Ndlovu, chief executive of thermal coal producer Thungela Resources, told analysts on a call in March.
“Given the concentration that we've got in a single geography and the concentrated risk associated with that infrastructure, I think it stands to reason that we should look at other opportunities.”