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New railway to include Zambia minerals line

A copper mine at night in Zambia

MINE TO PORT The new and improved rail line in the Lobito Corridor will help get minerals to port quicker and safer

22nd September 2023

     

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Inclusive of a stretch of railway extending into Zambia’s copper-producing district, the start of the transfer of the concession of railway services and support logistics of the Lobito Corridor to joint venture (JV) Lobito Atlantic Railway was announced in July during a ceremony hosted by the municipal administration of Lobito, in Angola.

The Lobito rail corridor is a partnership between the private and public sectors, and will span

Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and now Zambia, culminating at the Port of Lobito.

The 30-year concession has been awarded to Lobito Atlantic Railway, which is a JV between global commodities company Trafigura, construction and infrastructure management company Mota-Engil and independent rail operator Vecturis.

For the mining industry specifically, the railway offers the shortest and most direct route to port from Zambia’s Copperbelt region, as well as the key mining district of Kolwezi in the DRC, where exports of copper, cobalt and other raw materials are growing rapidly.

Angola President João Lourenço said at the July event that the Lobito Corridor will certainly boost intra-African exports, which currently account for only 14% of the total exports for the rest of the world.

Magnet metals miner Pensana CEO Tim George lauded the development of the rail corridor adding that he believes the Lobito rail corridor has huge potential to boost the development of sectors along the line including mining, heavy industry and agriculture.

Angola Transport Minister Ricardo Viegas d’Abreu stated that the Lobito Corridor is a “powerful infrastructure which definitively marks the image of Angola to the world”, namely with private investors and financial entities from the US, Europe and other geographies.

“Together, we have a shared vision of creating the most important logistics corridor in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Lobito Atlantic Railway concession companies representative Jeremy Weir.

He added that the project would not only create a western route to market for goods and materials, but also has huge potential to boost the development of sectors along the line including heavy industry, agriculture and mining.

Realising the full potential of the railway will require significant investment by the Lobito Atlantic Railway consortium, including the sourcing of 1 555 wagons and 35 locomotives for the Angolan side of the corridor alone.

The concession is also committed to investing in training and skills, with dedicated training centres already in place at Angola’s Huambo and Lobito regions, and local recruitment getting underway.

Overall, the Lobito Atlantic Railway consortium plans to invest $455-million in Angola and up to $100-million in the DRC, while additional investments are still being acquired for Zambia.

Lobito will also provide the fastest export and import route from the African region to Europe and the Americas.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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