A consortium led by Trafigura and Mota-Engil has won a concession tender for rail services and logistics support for the Lobito Corridor in Angola, the Central African country’s transport ministry has announced.
The corridor is a key route connecting mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the Lobito port in Angola, and international markets beyond.
The consortium is owned 49.5% each by global commodities group Trafigura and construction and infrastructure management group Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construcao Africa. Independent rail operator Vecturis will own 1%. Last year China Communications Construction Co (CCCC) acquired a 32.4% stake in Mota-Engil.
The consortium will be responsible for the operation, management and maintenance of the rail infrastructure for cargo transport, minerals, liquids and gas for the corridor linking the Lobito port with Luau in eastern Angola, close to the border with the DRC.
The 30-year concession has the potential to be extended for another 20 years.
As part of the deal, the consortium has committed to invest significant capital in improving the capacity and safety of the Lobito Corridor, as well as in rolling stock for freight operations.
At present, copper, cobalt and other metals are exported from the DRC eastwards across Africa, via Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, via Beira in Mozambique, or south via Durban in South Africa.
As export volumes increase amid rising demand for minerals, the roads have become more congested and delays at the border more protracted.
The new export corridor uses existing national rail infrastructure, removes trucks from the roads and offers considerable cost and time savings for miners in the Copperbelt to export to international markets. The Copperbelt region sits on the border of northern Zambia and the southern DRC.
The concession holder will handle the transport of large cargoes, mainly ore and fuel, while the public passenger and small cargo transport service will remain under the management of Benguela Railway.