It seems more likely than ever that a new coal port will be built at Macuse, 35km north of the city of Quelimane in Zambézia Province, as people living in the area where the port will be built are to be moved off the land over the next two years.
Work on building a new village for the residents, with power and water supplies, a market and health centre, began in October.
Total construction costs for both the port and the railway that would link the port to the Moatize coal mines are estimated at US$3.2B. The line is to be built by Mota Engil Mozambique and China Machinery Engineering Corporation.
The 525 km line would have initial transport capacity of 25 Mtpa but officials have previously said that the figure could be increased to 100 Mtpa, making it the country’s premier coal export route, ahead of the ports of Beira and Nacala.
While the coal terminals at Beira and Nacala were built at existing ports, there is currently no port at Macuse, but the latter could threaten the proposed expansion of the coal terminal at Nacala. The project also encompasses the construction of a spur line to Chitima, which would open up as yet untapped reserves for development.
However, it is possible that the project could actually benefit Beira because part of the railway will make use of the existing railway between the Moatize coal mines and Beira, but the capacity planned means that that line would have to be upgraded.
It was reported in Mozambique last year that Sinosure and Chinese banks had agreed to finance the construction of the railway but it remains to be seen how long it will take for work on the project to start, because low coal prices appear to have delayed development.
Under a concession awarded in 2013, the project is to be developed by a consortium of Thai Moçambique Logistica, with a 60% stake, Mozambican state-owned transport utility Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) (20%) and a Mozambican consortium of investors called Corredor de Desenvolvimento Integrado do Zambeze (Codiza) (20%).