Maputo, Mozambique — 05 March 2013 – The Brazilian mining giant Vale has delayed the expansion of its open cast coal mine in Moatize, in the central Mozambican province of Tete, by one year.

Independent daily “O Pais”, cited by, reports that the expansion has been postponed from the second half of 2014 to the second half of 2015.

The company says it took the decision in order to bring the planning of its mining and its logistical operations into alignment, as well as to make optimal use of the resources invested.
In other words, the expansion of mining is on hold, until the current logistical problems are solved.

Like other mining companies in Tete, Vale is entirely dependent on the Sena rail line to take its exports from Moatize to the port of Beira. But the Indian consortium, Rites and Ircon International, in charge of rebuilding the line, botched the job and parts remain in poor condition and highly vulnerable to bad weather.

In February torrential rains and flooding swept away ballast and earthworks from part of the line in the Tete district of Mutarara, forcing a suspension of rail traffic. Unable to comply with its coal export contracts, Vale declared a situation of “force majeure”.

Vale has stated its attention of pushing ahead with the ambitious plan to build a new railway from Moatize to the northern port of Nacala, cutting across southern Malawi, and thus freeing the company from dependence on the Sena line. It is hoped that this railway will be operational as from late 2014.

The company is also building a new coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha, on the opposite side of the bay from the existing port. It could handle 22Mtpa of coal. Nacala is regarded as the best deep water harbour on the east African coast, and ships of any size can dock there.

At a Maputo seminar on coal and gas last week, minister of mineral resources Esperanca Bias forecast that by 2020 Mozambique could be exporting over 50Mtpa of coal, and would become one of the world’s five largest exporters of coking coal.

But these prospects will only become a reality, if the current logistical constraints are overcome.

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