Beira port

From Global Energy Monitor

Beira port is the longest established coal export port in Mozambique. The port, in Sofala province, is linked by the 660 kilometre-long Sena railway line to Moatize, Tete province, the current center of Mozambique's coal mining boom.

The port includes the Beira coal terminal and the New Coal Terminal Beira (NCTB).


Beira port is in Sofala province, Mozambique.

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Sena railway

Railway history

The Sena rail line was re-developed and re-opened in June 2010 to facilitate the export of coal from new export coal mines around Moatize in Mozambique. The reopened line has a capacity of five million tonnes of coal.[1] The development of the coal deposits around Moatize and Tete of Rio Tinto and Vale have been contingent on a substantial upgrading of export infrastructure. Rio Tinto's stage 1 Benga coal mine plans on exporting coal via the reopening of the Sena railway line from Moatize to the port of Beira and an upgrading of the port facilities.

Brazilian mining company Vale reported in August 2011 that it delivered its first coal by train from its Moatize mine project to the Beira port. Vale was the first of the major mining companies to start producing thermal and metallurgical coal from the Tete basin. The Moatize project will be able to produce up to 11 million tons of coal, 8.5 million tons of which will be metallurgical coal and 2.5 million tons thermal coal.[2]

Proposed expansion

The redevelopment of the 665 kilometer long Sena railway line was part-funded by a World Bank loan of $104.5 million, "with another $45 million under consideration" according to a 2009 news report. A transport adviser to the World Bank, Jose Chembeze, told Reuters that the Biera port could potentially handle approximately 12 to 15 million tonnes of coal per annum. Chembeze stated that a further upgrade of the railway to allow it to handle 12 million tonnes of coal a year was under consideration and that this would cost an additional $250-280 million.[3]

In a 2010 investor presentation, Riversdale stated that the "Mozambique Government is planning for a new Beira coal terminal with 18-24mtpa of new capacity to be constructed (additional to refurbished capacity)". The company stated that the expansion of Benga would be timed to coincide with this. Further expansion of coal exports from the Moatize area, the company flags, could require "double tracking, passing loops, signaling & bridge upgrade" on the Sena railway line.[4]

Railway alternatives for coal exports

However, there is uncertainty about the likelihood of further railway upgrades. Vale is developing Nacala Corridor project, a 912 kilometre long railway to connect the Moatize mine with a new coal export terminal at Nacala. The project involves upgrading 682 kilometres of existing railroad and building a new 230-kilometre section.[5] The railway line is proposed to cost $4.4 billion and be completed in the second half of 2014. The company has also commenced a US$2 billion expansion of the Moatize mine to provide an additional capacity of 11 million tonnes a year, doubling the mine output[6], which is scheduled to be completed in in the second half of 2015.

In July 2013, the Mozambique government is scheduled to select a winning bidder from six preferred bidders for the construction of a new 525 kilometre rail line from Tete province to Macuse and a new 25 million tonne a year multi-cargo port. The government wants the new port to be capable of being doubled in capacity. The bid winner will be required to fund the project, estimated to cost US$3 billion. Rio Tinto is one of the six preferred bidders though Transport Minister Paulo Zucula has rejected a push by Rio Tinto for "an exclusive line, just for Rio Tinto. Mozambique doesn't work on those principles".[7] (See Moatize to Macuse railway line.)

Floods and security

In February 2013, flooding resulted in the railway being shut down for several weeks forcing Vale and Rio Tinto to suspend exports. The port of Beira also requires constant dredging to remain operational.[8]

Coal exports via the railway line have also been disrupted following violent clashes between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) and its former civil war combatants, Renamo. The Sena railway runs near Renamo's stronghold in the Gorongosa area. In June 2013 Renamo threatened to block the railway line following government troops moving into the area near Beira Port following an attack on a government arms depot in which six soldiers were killed.[9][10] Following the clashes Rio Tinto stated that it had "paused our operations on the rail line while we assess the current situation in Mozambique."[11]

In April 2014, operations on the Sena railway line between Moatize and Beira were temporarily suspended, after gunmen shot the driver of a coal train in the leg. Mozambique's Deputy Interior Minister Jose Mandra blamed the rebel group Renamo for the attack, although Renamo denied any responsibility for the incident.[12][13]

Articles and resources


  1. Irma Venter, "Mozambique’s 5Mt/y Sena coal line requires 30 locos, 600 wagons", Engineering News, June 23, 2010.
  2. "Vale Mozambique Coal Reaches Port; Eyes Aug Export" WebWire, accessed August 11, 2011.
  3. "Mozambique coal rail line ready 2010-World Bank", Reuters, April 21, 2009.
  4. Steve Mallyon (Managing Director), "Investor Presentation", Maputpo, July 2010, page 22.
  5. Vale, "Railroads: Nacala Corridor", Vale website, accessed May 2013.
  6. Vale, [ "Vale: Capital and R&D Expenditures Budget of US$ 16.3 billion to 2013", Media Release, 3 December 2012.
  7. Agnieszka Flak, "Rio Tinto among main bidders for Mozambique rail project", Reuters, April 10, 2013.
  8. Agnieszka Flak and Marina Lopes, "Poor railways, ports put brake on Mozambique's coal rush", Reuters, April 16, 2013.
  9. "Mozambique's Renamo threatens to paralyse coal export line", Reuters, June 19, 2013.
  10. William Felimao, "Mozambique’s Renamo Threatens Rail Line Used by Rio, Vale", Bloomberg, June 19, 2013.
  11. "Rio suspends Mozambique coal exports over security fears", Reuters, June 26, 2013.
  12. "Mozambique: Renamo Attacks Train on Sena Line", allAfrica, April 2, 2014.
  13. "Moz: Tensions flare as Renamo denies attack on train line", Mail & Guardian, April 3, 2014.

Related articles

External resources

  • CCFB, "Beira Rail Concession", Workshop on Large Project Finance, Maputo, Mozambique, February 7, 2008. (Powerpoint Presentation).