Nacala port

From Global Energy Monitor

Nacala port is the deepest port in Southern Africa and the site of northern Mozambique's newest and largest coal export terminal, which began commercial operation in 2015. The port is connected by rail to the Moatize coalfield in Mozambique's coal-rich Tete province.


The port is located in northern Mozambique's Nampula province.

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Nacala port was identified as a desirable location for a new terminal to export coal produced at the Moatize coalfield in Mozambique's coal rich province of Tete. A news report in 2009 cited Mozambique’s Transport Minister Paulo Zucula stating that the government had secured $500 million from the Dutch government and the European Union to to build a new railway line from Moatize to the deep-water Nacala port by 2015.[1]

The decision to build a new coal export port and railway line came in response to inadequacies in the export infrastructure at Beira, which at the time was northern Mozambique's only operating coal terminal. Coal from Vale's Moatize mine, which was commissioned in mid-2011, and Rio Tinto's Benga coal mine could only be transported to the port at Beira via the 660km long Sena railway, which has limited capacity, is built to a poor standard and vulnerable to flooding. Beira port itself is subject to silting, requiring constant dredging.[2]

In July 2011, it was announced that Brazilian based Vale had begun studies on building a coal terminal at Nacala. The project's cost was estimated at about US$1.5 billion.[3]

In 2012, Vale said that it was planning to spend US$4.4 billion to build the terminal and the 912km railway line to connect the port with its Moatize mine.[4] Currently the port and the railway are both managed by CLN (Corredor Logístico Integrado do Norte), an 80%/20% partnership between Vale and the Mozambican state port and rail authority Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM).[5]

In December 2014, the Vale group sold a stake of almost 15 percent in the Moatize mine and 35 percent of the railway and the port of Nacala to Japanese group Mitsui & Co.[6]

In January 2015, the port of Nacala was nearing completion and the new railway line between Nacala and the Moatize coalfield was fully in place. CLN, operator of the port and railway projects, received shipment of the first locomotives for use on the new line in mid-2014,[5] and load testing on the railway began in November 2014.[7]

When fully operational, the railway will transport coal from Moatize to Nacala in trains with an average length of 1,500 meters, composed of at least 120 coal cars pulled by four locomotives. Plans call for the railway to offer universal access to all coal producers in Tete province. CLN projects a transport capacity of over 11 million metric tons per year by the end of 2015, 13 million tons by the end of 2016, and 18 million tons by the end of 2017.[7][8]

In June 2015, Vale Mozambique said it would begin exporting coal through the port in the third quarter of the year.[6]

In May 2017, an official inauguration ceremony at Nacala port celebrated completion of the 912-kilometer Mostize-Nacala railway. The completed railway, which operated at limited capacity from 2014 to 2016, can now accommodate its maximum load of twenty-two 120-car trains daily, allowing the port to operate at its full export capacity of 18 million tonnes per annum. The port has storage facilities for one million tonnes of coal and is expected to be able to load 150 ships per year.[9]

Trains are scheduled to operate every one to two hours between Mostize and Nacala port. The thermal and metallurgial coal exported from Nacala will be shipped to Brazil, China, and Japan.[10][11] With the port operating at full capacity, coal is expected to surpass aluminum as Mozambique's primary export.[12]

Nacala's natural deep-water harbor and state-of-the-art facilities offer significant advantages over the Mozambican port of Beira, which requires regular dredging. Nacala is capable of accommodating much larger ships than Beira (the largest coal shipment from Nacala to date totaled 187,000 tonnes), prompting Vale to announce in late 2017 that it would discontinue all coal exports from Beira and move 100% of its Mozambican coal port operations to Nacala.[13]

In January 2021, Japan’s Mitsui & Co announced it agreed to sell its stake in the Moatize coal mine and Nacala Corridor rail and port projects to Vale for $1 each. The move came as Vale separately decided to divest its coal business in a bid to focus on its core operations and in line with its aim of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. Mitsui planned to complete the transfer of the stake and associated loans to the Brazilian miner by the end of the year. The Nacala transport corridor still had a book value of about $500 million, including its loans.[14]

Project Details

  • Operator: Corredor Logístico Integrado do Norte (Vale and Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique), Mitsui & Co.
  • Location: Nampula province, Mozambique
  • Annual Coal Capacity (Million tonnes): 11 (2015), 13 (2016), 18 (2017)
  • Status: Construction completed in 2015, expansion ongoing through 2017
  • Type: Exports
  • Source of coal: Moatize coalfield, Tete province, Mozambique
  • Funding: Japan International Cooperation Agency

Articles and resources


  1. "Mozambique To Build New Coal Railway Line To Ship Coal Mine From Moatize Mines To Nacala Port", Mining Exploration News, October 6, 2009
  2. Agnieszka Flak and Marina Lopes, "Poor railways, ports put brake on Mozambique's coal rush", Reuters, April 16, 2013
  3. "Vale Starts Study on Coal Terminal at Mozambique’s Deepwater Nacala Port" Fred Katerere, Bloomberg, June 5, 2010
  4. "Mozambique to start work on Nacala coal terminal," Reuters, February 24, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Mozambique Mining Industry: CLN receives first 10 locomotives to carry coal from Tete to Nacala", The Mozambique Resources Post, August 5, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Vale Moçambique starts exporting coal via the port of Nacala this year," Macau Hub, June 1, 2015
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Moatize/Nacala railway in Mozambique in load testing phase", Macau Hub, November 28, 2014
  8. "Vale Moçambique plans to start exporting coal via port of Nacala-a-Velha in 2015", Macau Hub, March 14, 2014
  9. "Nacala Corridor Officially Inaugurated," Railway Gazette, May 16, 2017
  10. "Nacala coal terminal, Mozambique, starts operating in full on 12 May," Macau Hub, May 9, 2017
  11. "21 trains a day: Coal terminal at Nacala port officially opens on Friday – Mozambique," Club of Mozambique, May 9, 2017
  12. "Exports from Mozambique to increase with inauguration of the Nacala coal terminal," Macau Hub, May 12, 2017
  13. "Mozambique Logistics: Vale diverts its coal exports to Nacala-a-Velha terminal," The Mozambique Resources Post, November 15, 2017
  14. "Mitsui to sell stake in Mozambique coal mine, logistics corridor to Vale," Reuters, January 20, 2021

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