Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Friday officially inaugurated the Nacala Integrated Logistic Corridor (CLN), the new railway and port built to carry coal exports from the Moatize coal basin in Tete province to the Indian Ocean.
The Corridor consists of a railway from Moatize to the Bay of Nacala, running for 912 kilometres, 200 of them inside Malawi, and a coal terminal at the brand new port of Nacala-a-Velha, on the opposite side of the bay from the existing Nacala port.
The investment in the Corridor amounts to about 4.4 billion US dollars. The shareholders in CLN are the Brazilian mining giant Vale, which owns the open cast coal mine at Moatize, the Japanese multinational Mitsui, and Mozambique's publicly owned port and rail company, CFM.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Nyusi said that Nacala-a-Velha possesses the largest and most modern coal terminal in the country. He was sure it would have “a huge direct impact on various sectors of economic activity and on the well-being of Mozambicans”.
He explained that he had a personal motive for satisfaction, for he is, by profession, a railway engineer, and he spent 15 years of his life working at the northern division of CFM, which covers the Nacala commercial port, and the railway from Nacala to Malawi (part of which is now within the CLN).
He stressed the importance of the new terminal, pointing out that Nacala-a-Velha can receive the largest mineral ships and thus avoid the high costs of transshipment. Nacala Bay provides natural deep water harbours, and the access channel does not require dredging. This means that much larger vessels can enter Nacala-a-Velha than in the alternative port for coal shipments, Beira. The natural conditions of Nacala make it the best deep water port on the east African coast.
Although the official inauguration was on Friday, the port has in fact been handling coal exports since January 2016. A source in Vale told reporters that to date the largest single shipment of coal from Nacala-a-Velha was a ship carrying 187,000 tonnes.
Coal will be the main cargo handled by CLN, but not the only one. Nyusi said the capacity of the CLN railway was for 22 million tonnes of cargo a year, of which 18 million tonnes will be coal.
The President said it was gratifying to know that CLN provides jobs directly for 2,053 workers, mostly young Mozambicans. This figure does not include the over 1,600 workers employed by tertiary companies dependent on the port and railway.
“This is a clear demonstration that the public and private sectors, duly facilitated by the government through good economic policies, can drive the development of the country”, he added.
He was sure that this was just the start, and that more daring investments would now come to Nacala-a-Velha. “That's why the local authorities, as from now, should draw up a structural plan for this town, which will become the future city of Nacala-a-Velha”.
The Chief Executive Office of Vale, Murila Ferreira, told the ceremony that the Corridor strengthens regional integration and cooperation between Mozambique, Malawi, Brazil and Japan.
“For Vale, the inauguration of the Nacala Corridor is motive for great pride”, he said. “We have successfully concluded the project with the largest volume of investment made by the company outside its country of origin, totaling 4.4 billion dollars”.