Zambia to get railway line linking copper mines

zambia rail string bass dave flickrThe new railway will reportedly have a design capacity of five mn tonnes. (Image source: String Bass Dave/Flickr)Zambia’s Northwest Rail Company (NWR) has awarded a 590km railway line contract to Grindrod Freight Services to link copper mines from northern Zambian to Angolan borders

Dave Rennie, CEO of Grindrod Freight Services, Ports & Rail, said, “This investment will enable Grindrod to extract synergies from our existing investments in the North South rail corridor and our port operations in Maputo, Richards Bay and Durban. We also see great potential in creating an Atlantic gateway to central Africa through Lobito and look forward to playing our part in making this a reality with the development of Phase 2.”

The proposed 1,067mm gauge railway line is expected to begin by the end of 2014, subject to the completion of a feasibility study on Phase 1, which is intended to service existing ore and finished copper traffic.

Costing US$489mn, Phase 1 would run 290km from the existing railway and smelters at Chingola, Copperbelt Province, to the Kansanshi, Lumwana and Kalumbila mines near the border with DR Congo. The US$500mn phase two would run to Jimbe on the border with Angola, and then link with the Benguela Railway, providing a route to the port of Lobito, which would be used to import oil and support mining in the western Copperbelt.

The new railway will reportedly have a design capacity of five mn tonnes. The government of Zambia had granted NWR exclusive rights to develop the railway in July 2006. This agreement was cancelled in 2008 when mining companies reportedly did not commit to using the railway line, but the agreement was reinstated in June 2011.

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