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Malawi rail upgrades under way, reports Sovereign Metals

20th June 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Upgrades to the 399 km Nkaya–Mchinji railway section connecting the Malawi–Zambia border to the Nacala Logistics Corridor (NLC), are under way, reports ASX- and Aim-listed Sovereign Metals.

The railway section runs across the company’s Kasiya rutile/graphite project tenements and it notes that the refurbishment of that part of the railway mainline that connects the Kanengo junction in the Lilongwe district, where Kasiya is located, to the NLC junction at Nkaya, is near completion.

Rehabilitation of the railway is an initiative of Malawi’s Ministry of Transport and Public Works and forms part of the government of Malawi’s Rail Strategy and Growth Plan, which has the stated mission “to facilitate the provision of a safe, efficient and sustainable rail transport system” to “promote socioeconomic development”.

Sovereign says upgrade works will increase efficiency and capacity on the railway line and are being undertaken by the Central and Eastern African Railway (CEAR) company. Completion is planned for the end of this year.

Works include refurbishing railway bridges and reballasting to handle increased load-bearing capacity from a current maximum axle load of 15 t to 18 t.

“Kasiya already benefits from exceptional existing infrastructure in central Malawi. This refurbishment project reaffirms Kasiya’s logistics solution with sufficient rail capacity, enhanced reliability and a direct connection to the deep-water export Port of Nacala.

“The infrastructure investment by the CEAR and Nacala Logistics along with approvals from the Malawi government is a demonstration of the country’s commitment to achieving its major economic development goals which include developing the mining industry and increasing Malawi’s export market,” says Sovereign MD Frank Eagar. 

Sovereign says the NLC offers the preferred logistics route to the deep-water Indian Ocean Port of Nacala to export to global markets. This established and operation-ready logistics infrastructure provides significant capital and operating cost savings to Kasiya.

The company notes that Kasiya benefits from two options for transporting its rutile and graphite products from the mine operations to seaports, being the NLC to the Port of Nacala and the Sena Rail Line to the Port of Beira (Beira Corridor).

The company says the current upgrades to the Nkaya junction improve access to the NLC and will ultimately also improve access to the Beira Corridor.

To access the NLC, Sovereign says it plans to build a 6 km rail spur to connect directly with the processing plant, increasing efficiencies in handling inbound and outbound freight compared with any road alternative.

The Beira Corridor, comprised of the Sena rail line and the Port of Beira, provides Sovereign with a second route to export markets and is currently undergoing its own upgrade works.

Last year, the Beira Development Corridor Agreement was approved, with the objective of connecting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi to the Mozambican Port of Beira through road and rail networks.

As Mozambique’s second largest port, Sovereign notes that the Port of Beira is a significant driver of the region’s economy and an important gateway for global trade, handling a wide variety of containerised and bulk cargo.

The Beira Development Corridor Agreement project aims to eliminate logistical bottlenecks for international and intra-African trade. The African Development Bank is a major financier of the project.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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