Windhoek, Namibia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 July 2010 – The government of Namibia plans to invest more than US$1 billion (R7.5 billion) over the next decade in transport routes linking southern Africa with its Walvis Bay port for the specific purpose of giving mineral producers in the region a viable export route.
Reuters reports that coal producers in South Africa “’ including Anglo American, Exxaro and Optimum Coal “’ have been unable to ship all of their coal destined for export due to constraints on the rail lines leading to the country’s port at Richards Bay.
Copper producers in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have also been encountering delays at the borders when shipping minerals out of the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.
“The port of Walvis Bay should become a gateway into the continent and a regional distribution hub,” Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) chief executive Johnny Smith told Reuters in an interview.
The Walvis Bay Corridor Group is a public-private partnership that promotes a network of transport corridors comprising the Port of Walvis Bay, the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, the Trans-Caprivi Corridor, the Trans-Cunene Corridor and the Trans-Oranje Corridor.
Walvis Bay plans to spend R2 billion by 2014 to extend its container terminals so that they are able to handle larger volumes of commodities processed through the port. Other investments will entail infrastructure upgrades along the three trade corridors linking to South Africa, Angola and the copper belt in Zambia and the DRC.
Another project is the planned 1 500km Trans-Kalahari railway line connecting Walvis Bay with the Botswana coal fields, which could be completed in five years at an estimated cost of US$6 billion (R45 billion).
“After conducting feasibility studies to ship the coal through Mozambique and South Africa, Botswana singled out Walvis Bay as the preferred option to ship out the large volumes of coal they plan to mine,” said Smith. The Trans-Kalahari highway is already used for cargo from Europe and the Americas destined for South Africa’s commercial Gauteng province, cutting five days of sailing and avoiding delays in a congested port in Durban.