It appears that Vale’s coal trains on the Sena line to the Port of Beira did not run between late July and November because of attacks by Renamo fighters, suggesting that the situation was much worse than previously admitted.
A new security agreement on protecting the trains has now been reached, allowing coal transport to resume. Renamo guerrillas began attacking trains on the west-east line and trucks on the north-south highway last year, prompting the introduction of a convoy system on the highway.There were further attacks on coal trains in May, June and July, the last of which left railway workers injured. This appears to have been the catalyst for the suspension of services. However, Mozambique’s state-owned transport utility Empresa Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) has now agreed to provide security on the line, allowing Vale to resume coal transport to Beira.
The Brazilian firm expects to double its production capacity on Moatize to 22 Mtpa within two years, while other coal projects in the region are also coming on stream, so it is vital that transport routes are secured. The Sena Railway now has annual handling capacity of 20 Mt, up from 6.5 Mtpa at the start of the year. Trains taking coal from the area to the Port of Nacala were attacked at least twice in October, so increased security may also be required.