Business Report reports on a new railway – more for copper than for people I guess!
Grindrod the listed integrated logistics service supplier reports it is to partner the Northwest Rail Company (NWR) in building, operating and maintaining a new railway line costing almost $1 billion in Zambia. The 590km Cape gauge railway will be built in two phases from Chingola in the heart of the old Zambian copper belt to the Angolan border.
The opportunity for Grindrod’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Grindrod Mauritius, to work with Zambian company NWR on the project follows exclusive rights being granted to NWR by the Zambian government in July 2006.
Enoch Kavindele, a former vice-president of Zambia and founder and owner of NWR, said he had been developing this project for a number of years and the synergies with Grindrod’s rail businesses made Grindrod an ideal partner in the joint venture and meant they would be able to bring this project into being in the shortest possible time.
Kavindele said the project would create thousands of jobs in the country, in line with government policy. Grindrod’s rail division runs railways and builds, refurbishes and maintains locomotives and wagons, provides rail signalling systems and constructs and maintains track infrastructure.
James Holley, the divisional chief executive of Grindrod Rail, said the division had spent the past few years developing its rail capabilities and growing its capacity to participate in the growth in Africa’s rail sector, which meant it was “perfectly placed to take up opportunities like this on the African continent”. “We also see great potential in creating an Atlantic gateway to central Africa through Lobito and look forward to playing our part in making this a reality with the development of phase two,” he said.
The 290km first phase of the project extends from Chingola to the Kansanshi, Lumwana and Kalumbila mines and involves an estimated capital cost of $489 million. The $500m second phase will connect this line with the Benguela line on the Zambia-Angola border near Jimbe.
Phase one is intended to service existing ore and finished copper traffic, while phase two is intended to open up a direct corridor to Lobito (picture), which would allow landlocked Zambia to import oil directly from Angola and to stimulate further mining activity in the western copper belt region. Construction is expected to start this year subject to the conclusion of the phase one bankable feasibility study.