Bulk export of coal from Botswana via Maputo corridor – a feasible option

Grindrod Terminals was one of the four partners that participated in the recent rail trial to export coal from Botswana via the Maputo corridor.

On 11 November a 34-wagon train loaded with 1600 tonnes of coal arrived at Grindrod’s coal terminal in Maputo Port, having covered the 1300 km from Francistown in Botswana in three days, travelling via Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

The trial was sponsored by African Energy Resources, Morupule Coal Mine in Botswana, Vitol Coal South Africa (energy and raw commodities trader in which Grindrod has an interest) and Grindrod Mozambique.  It involved the collaboration of three railway operations – Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

A statement released by African Energy said, “Botswana Railways undertook assembly of the 400m long train at Francistown Station. A Botswana Railways (BR) crew and locomotive then took the train to the Zimbabwean border, where a National Railways of Zimbabwe crew and locomotive took over. A further crew and locomotive change to Caminhos de Ferro de Mocambique was made at Chicualacuala in Mozambique to take the train to the Matola Coal Terminal which is operated by port operator Grindrod Terminals and Vitol. African Energy, Morupule, Grindrod and Vitol shared the costs for the export trial.

“This trial not only proved conclusively that bulk export of coal from collieries in Botswana via the Maputo corridor is feasible, but also provided invaluable technical information on the operation of rail services to assist African Energy’s feasibility study into coal exports from Botswana which is due to be discussed with the government of Botswana and other parties in early 2013.