A senior executive of Vale Moçambique, the Mozambique subsidiary of Brazilian major mining group Vale, has told local journalists that the company’s production target for its Moatize coal operation this year is 13-million tons of both metallurgical and thermal coal. This will be a 120% increase on the mine’s output in 2016. Moatize, located in the inland province of Tete, is primarily a metallurgical or coking coal operation, but also produces thermal coal.
The executive, Rogério Sendela, noted that the mine had produced some ten-million tons during the period from January to October, compared with the 5.9-million tons mined in the same period last year. He expressed confidence that the production target for this year would be met. He explained that the great increase in production was being made possible by two major infrastructure developments which had come into operation at the end of last year. One was the mine’s second coal handling and processing plant and the other was the inauguration of the railway line to (and the associated coal terminal at) the Port of Nacala.
Prior to the commissioning of the Nacala line (owned and operated by the Corredor Logístico do Norte – CLN – or North Logistics Corridor, consortium, in which Vale has a significant but minority shareholding) the mine had to use the Sena Railway to the port city of Beira to ship its production. The Sena line lacked capacity and frequently suffered damage during the rainy season.
The CLN has much greater capacity and security than the Sena line and can carry 18-million tons of cargo a year. The Sena line could provide Vale Moçambique with only six-million tons of capacity.
Today, the newspaper Notícias reports, five trains leave Moatize every day en route to Nacala, through Malawi, each with 120 wagons carrying 7 560 t of coal. The journey takes some 30 hours and the coal is exported to markets that include India, Japan and Brazil.
Quite separately, Mozambique Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Letícia Klemens has stated that the country’s minerals licensing and commercialisation processes will be improved to strengthen controls on the small-scale and artisanal mining sector. Speaking in the city of Matola, near Maputo, she observed that her department had, to date, issued 234 minerals licences and concessions and more than 4 000 research and prospecting licences.
“Of the 234 licences and concessions that have been issued, we have only ten in the phase of preparing (literally: prospecting) for production, which is still very little,” she said. “This reflection is going to permit us to analyse the constraints and identify a better form of inspecting all the [minerals] activities in the country, so we will have adequate information about the quantity and quality of the existing resources.”
She remarked that licences reserved for Mozambique citizens had been “rented out” to foreigners, “something that emphasises that we have difficulties in controlling our mineral resources”. According to Notícias, the Minister affirmed that government intended to organise small-scale and artisanal miners into cooperatives. It has initiated a pilot project which involved giving such miners “passwords” permitting prospecting “to see if this project is viable”.