Government to analyse Rio Tinto’s study on coal transport by river

7 November 2011

Maputo, Mozambique, 7 Nov – The Mozambican government will analyse the environmental impact of using the Zambezi River to transport coal mined in Tete province, as suggested by mining group Rio Tinto, said Mozambique’s Minister for Transport and Communications.

Last week, the chief executive of Rio Tinto, Doug Ritchie, told Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, that the group saw the Zambezi as a viable alternative for exporting the coal mined at its concessions in Tete province, in central Mozambique.

Speaking to Portuguese news agency Lusa, minister Paulo Zucula said that the government would analyse the study of the navigability of the Zambezi River carried out by Rio Tinto for the environmental impacts of its use by large draught ships, particularly in terms of the effect of dredging the river, the survival of local flora and fauna and the risk of flooding.

“We are not against the use of rivers for transport; navigating rivers is good. We are interested in knowing the impact in the case of navigation by large draught ships, because this is related to dredging, the depth of the river, flooding and the survival of the population,” noted Zucula.

The sue of the Zambezi River to transport coal from Tete, the province with the world’s largest coal reserves, has been questioned by environmental organisations, due to fears of degradation of the ecosystem, which is fundamental for the survival of the population of central and northern Mozambique.

Navigability tests on the Chire River carried out last year in Malawi, a country neighbouring Mozambique with no direct access to the sea, caused tension between the governments of the two countries because Maputo decided to prevent navigation of large-draught ships on the river unless environmental studies were carried out. (macauhub)