The Government of Zambia has urged the country’s mining sector to transport more freight to rail instead of using roads, despite concerns by miners that the current rail network does not have sufficient capacity.
As reported by Reuters on Tuesday, this was in terms of a law promulgated in January which compels mining companies to move at least 30% of their exports by rail. “We are proceeding with the implementation plan,” Reuters quoted Zambia’s transport minister, Brian Mushimba.
The Railways (Transportation of Heavy Goods) Regulations, 2018, obligates miners to transport the 30 percent of bulky and heavy cargo by rail.
However, Zambia Chamber of Mines is concerned about the signing of the Statutory Instrument. Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the chamber, Talent N’gandwe, notes that, despite the sector representation, the legislation has seemingly been forced-through.
“The Copperbelt rail infrastructure in existence is in poor repair, lacks capacity, lacks adequate security provision; and certainly lacks resilience.
“Moreover, it’s not a minor detail that the North Western Province mines have no access to a serviceable railhead closer than Chingola,” said Ng’andwe.
Currently, the country’s rail network has a 5% market share and the Chamber of Mines in Zambia argues that the potential impact of the new law on the mining industry had not been properly considered prior to the announcement.
In another development, the South African state-run logistics firm, Transnet, said it was in the process of finalising an agreement of leasing locomotives and wagons to Zambia Railways to boost the railway company’s capacity to handle bulk cargo.