Mozambique is positioning itself as the new frontier for metallurgical coal. The central province of Moatize is estimated to have billion of tonnes of this critical input to the steel making industry, which sells at price multiples to thermal coal.
The Antipodean Mariner did a whistlestop tour of Mozambique in May to study the rail and port infrastructure under development for the first Mozambican coal exports since the end of the post-colonial civil war.
Two key pieces of infrastructure - the Sena Rail Line and the port of Beira will export the first coal from open cast mines at Tete. The Sena Rail Line was heavily damaged during the civil war, and has been rehabilitated by its Indian concessionaires' Rites and Ircon. The port of Beira has languished in post-war obscurity, notably only for its position as the corridor for imports and exports from Zimbabwe. The port had silted up to only 6 metres of water, reducing blue water traffic to a trickle. A new coal terminal is under construction at Beira which will export up to 6M tonnes per year.
Foreign aid has funded dredging of the Pungue River channel back to 8 metres below chart datum. Berth 8 will be refurbished to load up to Supramax bulk carriers and two new tran-shipment vessels purpose built by Coeclerici for Vale's 4M tonne per year capacity.
The Zambesi River flows from Tete to the Indian Ocean and the Mocambican Government are looking at permitting barging to move coal for export.
Mozambique has a goldrush town feel about it - conspicuous wealth side-by-side with grinding poverty. Mozambique certainly felt like a country with a future.
The Antipodean Mariner
13th June 2011
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