Following the opening earlier this month of a 6 million tonne per annum capacity coal terminal at the port of Beira in Sofala province, the mining giant began exports from the East African country yesterday with a 34,000-tonne shipment bound for an Indian steel mill.
Rio Tinto Energy chief executive Doug Ritchie said the delivery marked an important point in the company’s phased development in one of the world’s most prospective coking coal regions.
“It is the first step towards our aim to become a significant supplier of hard coking coal to the seaborne market,” he said.
“We are also continuing to work with the government of Mozambique to secure the development of comprehensive infrastructure for efficient transport of coal from mine to port, which is a priority for the further development of the region.”
Rio projected in January that Benga would ship its first coal by late March, but exports from the mine have been delayed by challenges inherent to Mozambique’s sparse infrastructure.
The Mozambican government prohibited Rio last March from barging coal down the Zambezi River, a key waterway in southern Africa.
Coal is currently transported in Mozambique by rail with Benga’s production channelled along the 600km Sena railway.
In March, Transnet Rail Engineering delivered the final 98 of 200 rail wagons Rio ordered for its Moatize Basin operations.
A joint venture between Rio Tinto (65%) and Tata Steel (35%), Benga is located in the northern province of Tete.
Tete is estimated to be the largest untapped coal province in the world.