Rio Tinto group loses hundreds of tons of coal extracted in Mozambique

17 July 2013

The Rio Tinto mining group lost part of a 1,386-ton cargo of coal when the 42-wagon train transporting it on the Sena railway line derailed, the Mozambican press reported on Tuesday.

The accident happened on Monday in the Caia district of Sofala province, when the train was travelling between Moatize and the port of Beira. Transport and Communication Minister Paulo Zucula said it was due to defective reconstruction of the line, a project awarded to the Ricon company, a partnership between the Indian state-held groups Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) and Ircon International.

Zucula nevertheless acknowledged in statements to the Maputo-based daily Notícias that derailments had dropped significantly on that railway line, due to the safety devices installed since regular coal shipments began. The number of accidents has fallen from two to less than one per month.

Mozambique’s state-held Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) is carrying out work to repair the most obvious problems, Zucula said, stressing the need for train drivers to respect speed limits on each of the line’s sections.

The Sena line handles an average of 12 trains daily, all used to transport coal mined in Moatize, Tete province, and exported via the port of Beira.

A daily train operated by CFM also circulates daily on the line, transporting molasses and sugar from the Marromeu sugar mill, lime from Muanza and wood from Doa, as well as two weekly passenger trains on the Beira-Marromeu and Beira-Moatize routes.

Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique director Andrew Woodley meanwhile said that the company plans to increase production at the Benga mine as soon as additional transport capacity enables the extracted coal to reach Indian Ocean ports for export.

During a conference on coal, Woodley said that the prospecting, on which US$140 million was spent, had confirmed a lower estimate for coking coal, although he stressed that there were nevertheless “considerable amounts of coal”. (macauhub)