Blantyre – Sovereign Metals Limited, the company exploring rutile mineral deposits at Kasiya in central Malawi’s Lilongwe district, has identified the Nacala Corridor as its preferred route to export its mineral products to global markets.
The Nacala Corridor is a 912km rail line constructed to transport coal from mines in Moatize, western Mozambique, to Chipata in Zambia via Lilongwe to the Port of Nacala on the Indian Ocean.
The corridor provides Malawi with the shortest and most direct access to the sea and global commodity markets.
A study commissioned by Sovereign Metal Limited confirms the corridor as “a reliable and efficient logistics infrastructure” to transport the company’s rutile and related mineral products.
Sovereign Metals Limited MD Julian Stephens has said the potential and scale of the Kasiya rutile deposits ranked above other titanium mineral products like ilmenite in quality, and could deliver structural change in the pigment feedstock market.
According to the study, the transport network is underutilised with only 15 percent of rail freight capacity being exploited while capacity utilisation at the Nacala deep water port is just 41 percent.
“Nacala ranks amongst the most cost efficient and most underutilised ports on the eastern seaboard of Africa, and it is also one of the closest to Sovereign’s project area in physical overland distance terms,” said Stephens, whose company has an MoU with Nacala Logistics for rail freight, port access and port handling services for graphite concentrates produced at its Malingunde Project, also in Lilongwe.
Landlocked Malawi has traditionally been served by Nacala and Beira ports on Africa’s Eastern seaboard in Mozambique. Both ports are connected by direct road and rail routes connecting to Malawi’s Commercial city of Blantyre in the south and Lilongwe, the capital city in the centre.
Sovereign Metals Limited has indicated that Nacala Port is its preferred logistics route for exporting mineral products to global markets while it considers exports through the Beira port as a viable logistics option considering recent announcements of upgrades of the Sena rail line which connects Beira and the Tete province (Moatize Coal Mine).
The results of the forthcoming Scoping Study for the Kasiya Project may increase volumes of freight, port access and port handling services, adds Stephens who looks forward to reducing rail freight costs
“The Kasiya Project benefits from access to a fully operating rail line and class-1 all-weather sealed road network,” said Stephens, pointing out that from the 75km radius rutile exploration license areas, the company uses the bitumen road network for a 50km short haulage distance to an intermodal rail at Kanengo in Lilongwe.
The exploration license area is also privileged to have an existing rail line that needs to be rehabilitated.
Stephens said, “Sovereign is assessing the possibility of establishing its own rail siding as a logistics option as part of the current Scoping Study to reduce haulage and potentially reduce operating costs.”
The corridor infrastructure project was driven by the governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, Vale, Mitsui, a consortium of several international and African banks and export credit agencies including the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JICA), Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and African Development Bank (AfDB).
Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia with support from the European Union, AfDB, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Export-Import Bank of Korea have made a total investment of approximately US$758 million in the development of the corridor.