Thursday, April 18, 2024

Botswana Railways tests Mozambique rail route

Botswana Railways (BR) last week Thursday commissioned its first trial run coal train from Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) to the Port of Maputo in Mozambique. The 40 wagon train will use the Limpopo route which passes through Zimbabwe to Mozambique.

Welcoming guests during the commissioning of the train in Palapye, BR Board Chairperson Mmoloki Ramaeba said the trial run train is an unprecedented move that seeks to provide an alternative route to transport coal to the overseas markets. He also said the move seeks to give their customers options and convenience in transporting their goods.

“We believe that the Limpopo route can become an alternative of our Mafikeng rail line route as it is also able to handle freight such as coal and iron ore with a capacity of approximately 4.2 million tons per annum. With the rising demand of coal, we at Botswana Railways identified an opportunity to become an enabler for the evacuation of this commodity to the overseas markets by providing logistics solutions connecting the mines to the ports,” he said.

Ramaeba said the initiative became a success because of a tripartite agreement between BR, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique  (CFM).He emphasized that this trial run train marks a major milestone of BR, mining industry and Botswana’s economy large.

For her part the Acting Chief Executive Officer of BR Chelesile Malele said last week they attended a tripartite meeting with their counterparts from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. She said from their discussions, it was clear that they all wanted this initiative to be a success.

“Initially we thought that we were the only one who had interests in this initiative but it was clear that our counterparts from Zimbabwe and Mozambique shared similar interests. They shared our vision,” Malele said.

She said the initiative came at the right time as global coal prices have tripled. She emphasized that they are very ready to evacuate as much coal as they can.

The General Manager of Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) Edwin Elias said the trial run train is a major milestone leading to delivery of 175 000 tonnes of washed coal to their customers.

“The first major coal delivery via the same route was tried by MCM/African Energy and BR in 2013. These first trials assisted the rail operators with practical lessons of what needed to be done” he said

“Another major milestone in our history was delivery of 25 thousand tones of washed cobbles to the Turkish domestic market in 2015. Today marks by far the largest milestone where MCM is now working with partners to open up the route and supply to the global markets,” added Elias.

He said the move is significant for their growth and diversification of their revenue streams, as well as assisting government efforts to diversify mineral revenue from diamond revenue. He said MCM has world class coal resources and reserves to supply global markets and their clients are already happy about the coal they are delivering.

Speaking at the same event, Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) Chief Executive Officer Charles Siwawa expressed happiness that BR made such a milestone. He said despite Botswana being landlocked country, they as BCM are trying by all means to make it land linked.

“We should not forget that opportunities are there for us to access the sea and we can be able to take our minerals and goods out of the country,” he said.

Among other important issues Siwawa said despite the challenges that might persist, they all must not give up. He said in any business challenges are bound to be there and can be tackled.


Read this week's paper