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Mozambique will still count on coal, says country’s transport minister

World Coal,

Though coal prices are currently in the doldrums, Mozambique will continue to count on the fossil fuel, according to the country’s transport minister, Gabriel Muthisse.

In an interview, Muthisse said Mozambique was counting on increasing coal exports and expanding its infrastructure as it looks to drive economic growth. However, Muthisse also noted that depressed global prices for coal might delay the timing of some major railway and port projects.

Mozambique is drawing hope from a forecast from the World Bank, which said coal and gas may generate US$ 9 billion in revenues by 2032 for the south African nation, which is still recovering from a crippling civil war between 1975 – 1992.

Muthisse pointed to the work of Rio Tinto, Vale and Jindal as giant companies that have invested heavily in developing Mozambique’s coal reserves. However, he accepted that current low prices might force coal producers to face a “strategic wait” before operations become fully profitable.

"We're still counting on coal," the minister said.

"Our bet is that Mozambique continues to be one of those countries that keeps its coal industry open, and continues to be an important player at a world level," Muthisse added.

The minister said that by completing “crucial” railway-port projects, such as the Tete-Nacala project and the Moatize-Macuse rail line, Mozambique could ramp up coal production from 6 – 7 million tpa to at least 80 million tpa. However, Muthisse noted that the pace of these projects was subject to change. "I'm seeing more the possibility of rethinking the timetables, rather than any possibility of cancelling the projects," he said.

Muthisse was adamant that coal had a future both in Mozambique and around the world. The world will still continue to need coal," he said.

"Strategically, if I were an operator in coal, I wouldn't be exiting from here, but evidently if some do leave, the nation will be looking for partnerships elsewhere, both in actual extraction and in the logistics," the minister added.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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