Namibian rail operator TransNamib has signed a deal with Ascon Energy to transport coal, other dry bulk commodities and containers.
The agreement will see cargo carried by rail between the country’s inland container depots (ICDs) and the Port of Walvis Bay. The Rail Transport Agreement will relate to Grootfontein in the first instance, with Gobabis coming on stream at a later date.
Ascon Energy is part of the Ascon Group, a commodity trading firm with interests in the coal sector.
In the first instance, the deal relates to the transport of 600,000t of commodities and could involve the transport of mined products, including copper, from Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo, and Walvis Bay at a later date.
In a statement, Ascon Energy revealed: “TransNamib is also in discussion with other logistics service providers within the region to develop the intermodal facilities at Grootfontein to support the growth of volumes in the short to medium term.” Project construction costs are now estimated at US$9.5B.
Port operator Namport is keen to attract more business from other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
In January, TransNamib signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Botswana Railways to develop the long-awaited Trans-Kalahari railway to transport coal to Walvis Bay, mainly from Botswanan mines, but probably also from smaller, proposed Namibian mines. The likelihood of the project being developed seemed to have receded after Botswana decided to pursue an alternative export route through South Africa.