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Mozambique to Ship Coal on Zambezi

The Zambezi River passing the town of Tete in central Mozambique. Mozambique will overcome a shipping

The Zambezi River passing the town of Tete in central Mozambique. Mozambique will overcome a shipping

Mozambique will overcome a shipping bottleneck to export its vast coal deposits by finding ways for barges to navigate the Zambezi River, the transport minister said in a report Thursday.

"The discussion about the navigability of the Zambezi is unnecessary, because it will have to be used. What should be discussed is how we will navigate the river," transport minister Paulo Zucula told O Pais newspaper.

Mozambique's northwestern Tete province has the world's largest untapped coal reserves, estimated at 2.4 billion tonnes. International mining companies are developing the deposits, with exports expected to begin next year.

For centuries Arab traders and then European colonisers dreamed of using the Zambezi as a route inland, only to be blocked by repeated stretches of rapids and waterfalls on one of Africa's great rivers.

But Mozambique believes that for the roughly 200 kilometres (130 miles) from the coal-mining region to the Indian Ocean, the river can be dredged to allow barges to pass.

Earlier this year, the Sena railway went back into service, nearly 30 years after it was destroyed in Mozambique's civil war, as part of efforts to open an export path for the coal being mined by Australia's Riversdale and Brazil's Vale.

The railway can export five million tonnes a year to the central port Beira, just half of the mines' expected production.

Another railway line is planned eventually to connect the mines with northern port Nacala.

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