The Portuguese construction company, Mota-Engil, will be contracted to build the railway from the Moatize coal basin in the western Mozambican province of Tete, to a new deep water port at Macuse, in Zambezia Province, according to Abdul Carimo, the Chairman of the Zambezia Development Corridor (CODIZA).

He told Radio Mozambique in the Zambezia provincial capital, Quelimane, that the railway project, with a cost estimated in excess of 2.3 billion US dollars, “is on a very good path, not only because the price of coal, both thermal and coking coal, has risen significantly, but also because we have been able to launch the international tender”.

Carimo said bids were received from six companies, from China, Turkey, Republic of Korea, Brazil and Portugal. “We were discussing, analyzing and assessing for six months and now we have found the winning company. We have the price more or less fixed, and we are ready to sign the contract so that the company can start work,” he added.

The railway to Macuse will be the third route for exporting Moatize coal. The other two are the lines to Beira, and to the northern port of Nacala-a-Velha (which cuts across southern Malawi),

The Macuse project has two competitive advantages. First, the railway, at between 480 and 500 kilometres in length will be shorter than the lines to Beira or Nacala and secondly, Macuse port will be able to receive ships of up to 80,000 tonnes, considerably larger than the ships that can dock at Beira.

The Macuse coal project is 60 per cent owned by the Italian-Thai Development Company of Thailand, 20 per cent by CODIZA and 20 per cent by Mozambique’s publicly owned port and rail company, CFM.