Zambezi River, in Mozambique, may be used to transport coal from Moatize

2 July 2010

Maputo, Mozambique, 2 July – Transport of some of the coal mined in the Moatize coal basin, in Mozambique’s Tete province may be carried out via the Zambezi River if the results of the studies currently underway are confirmed, according to Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias.

During a debate held in Maputo, Martin Papper, chairman of Global Marin Resources, said that using lightweight barges the coal could be transported from Tete to the Chinde region, where large-draught ships were anchored that would take the coal to consumer markets.

Speaking at the Conference on the Strategic Importance of Rivers as Communication and Transport Lines – Navigability of the Zambezi River, an event organised by the Mozambican Association for Mineral Coal Development and the Economic Country, Papper also said that the barges could be adapted to the natural characteristics of that waterway.

“The river cannot only be seen as a place to preserve natural resources. Mozambicans can use the rivers to create jobs and investment,” Papper said.

He said, however, that it was the Mozambican state’s responsibility to make the right decision about using the river, or not for transporting coal, once all the advantages and disadvantages that such a move could imply had been considered.

Environmentalists have questioned the feasibility of using the Zambezi River for transporting coal, fearing that it could pollute the water and reduce the humidity of the land close to the waterway.

In his turn, Casimiro Francisco, chairman of the Mozambican Association for Development of Coal, said that considering the possibility of river transport was due to the fact that the capacity of Sena railroad was totally used up.

A few years ago, Vale Moçambique, a subsidiary of Brazil’s Vale and the concession-holder of a coal mine in Moatize, carried out a study of the possibility of exporting coal via the port of Nacala, but did not move ahead due to the investment needed to build a 900-kilometre railroad, at a time when the reconstruction of the Sena railroad was just beginning. (macauhub)