Mozambique’s government has announced that it has secured $500m (£313m) to build a new railway line.

The transport minister said the new line will link the coal-rich northern Moatize mines to Nacala port by 2015.

He said funding from the Dutch and Danish government as well as the European Union meant construction could start in two months.

The Brazilian firm mining in Moatize says it represents one of the world’s last great unexploited coal reserves.

Mozambique’s railways, ports and mines are slowly recovering from a brutal civil war that ended in 1992.

Three years ago, the 670km (420 mile) long Sena Railway linking Beira port to Moatize was cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance.

But the BBC’s Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, says the line was never completely refurbished and the silted port of Beira is now unable to handle big vessels.

So Transport Minister Paulo Zucula said the new line will link the existing Sena line to a railway that runs between the deep water port of Nacala and Malawi.

Its completion, including the refurbishment of the Nacala-Malawi railway, will come at the peak of Moatize mine’s coal production, Mr Zucula said.

Operations at Moatize, in Tete province, are run by Brazilian mining giant, Vale.

Mr Zucula said some of the new funding would also be used to dredge Beira port.

Our correspondent says the railway is part of Mozambique’s plan to become a regional trans-shipment route.

Its three key ports – Maputo, Beira and Nacala – are strategically important to Mozambique’s neighbours, especially landlocked Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as parts of South Africa.

The country also wants to serve as an alternative to the highly congested ports of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and Kenya’s Mombasa.



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