The Chamber of Mines of Botswana has revealed that a planned heavy-haulage railway network for the prime purpose of shipping coal from the landlocked country to ports in Southern Africa will cost about $33 billion.

“The railway lines are very, very important to us,” said chamber CEO Charles Siwawa in an interview here with Bloomberg News. “They will take us to the next level of our development.”

Apart from the new requirement for coal, Botswana Railways also transports copper, cement, soda-ash, salt, fuel, grain and other consolidated freight.

In terms of the new coal project, Southern African countries are investing in rail to meet growing global demand for coal, led by China. Botswana, with about 200 Bt of the resource in its central region, is in talks with South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique to build about 3,700km of rail lines to ports at Richards Bay, Walvis Bay and Maputo.

“Namibia is leading the talks,” Siwawa said. He confirmed that Botswana’s mines were large enough to require all three planned lines.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.