A combination of factors such as rising coal prices, increased demand and in-depth surveys that revealed huge amounts of high grade coking coal underground have attracted various different international mining companies to the Tete area in Mozambique. The rush to the coal fields in the last five years completely surprised Tete, a sleeping city in a remote corner of the country bordering Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Thousands of Mozambicans have flocked here, drawn by work prospects at the mines and a tobacco factory as well as the city’s new universities. Hundreds of expatriate mining specialists have expanded the local population growth, many of whom have received relocation assistance from Moving-ON Mozambique’s local team.
African Business’s special report on Energy projects in Africa refers that “Vale and Rio Tinto are both developing coal projects with production capacity in excess of 10m tones a year and Tete Province should yield 50-100m tonnes a year within a decade if sufficient transport capacity is put in place”. Vale Moçambique started producing coal in July 2011 and the coal mined in Tete province is carried along the Sena railroad to the port of Beira from where it is shipped, to export markets.
Recently a statement was released by UK company Kentz Corp announcing that they will build the second phase of the Moatize coal mining project for Brazilian group Vale in Tete province, a contract that includes all construction services related to coal processing. The company was also in charge of the first phase of construction following a contract signed in 2009, which made Moatize the Brazilian group’s main investment in Africa. This British engineering and construction group is also carrying out work in the Mozambican port of Nacala under terms of a US$38 million contract signed with the Nacala Integrated Logistics Corridor (CLIN).
CLIN is a partnership between Vale Moçambique Limitada, a subsidiary of Brazil’s Vale group, with an 80 percent stake, and the state-owned ports and railways company, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), with the remaining 20 percent. The Nacala Corridor Project aims to provide a logistical solution for the outflow of coal mined in Moatize, Tete province, via a 912 km long railway to the Nacala port’s maritime terminal. Mozambique’s dilapidated infrastructure rapidly needs a solution as there is only one railway line to take the coal to Beira the nearest port, 575km (357 miles) away.
In spite of this huge surge in local economic growth and development, the mining companies still have a job to convince the population of Tete and Moatize about the benefits of coal. Local populations still see few jobs mainly due to lack of local qualification; the rising prices and relocation of populations away from the coal rich areas have created a strong amount of local tensions.
Tete is the capital city of Tete Province in Mozambique. It is located on the Zambezi River, and is the site of only one of three bridges across the river in the entire country. Tete continues to dominate the west-central part of the country and region, and is the largest city on the Zambezi.