Oranje corridor revitalised
Aus-Luderitz railway link nearing completion
Construction of the much anticipated Aus-Luderitz railway line is expected to be concluded by the end of the year. The railway line was initially supposed to be up and running 10 years ago, and served as a basis for the construction of the Skorpion Zinc which commenced in 2001.
When approached for comment by the Economist, TransNamib Holdings Chief Executive Officer, Sara Naanda sounded optimistic that the railway line would be operational in all likelihood by November 2014. The railway line was constructed at a total cost of N$62 million.
The imminent conclusion of the ten year project comes at the same time when the TransNamib Holdings Board of Directors launched an ambitious turnaround strategy that will be carried out over the span of 5 years and will look to spend N$400 million. The completion of the railway line should bolster the efforts of the TransNamib Board of Directors.
In its annual report for 2013, TransNamib Holdings states, “The revitalisation of the Orange corridor is currently being investigated, especially in light of the interest shown by mining and agriculture companies in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Once the Aus-Lüderitz railway line is completed, potential growth lies in the transportation of commodities, such as manganese and grain to the port of Lüderitz.”
With the railway line nearing completion, the Namibia Ports Authority will look to enhance the profile of its secondary port, which should effectively see it manage zinc, and lead concentrate exports as well as graphite, should the Aukam mining project come into fruition. Ore generated at Glencore’s Rosh Pinah operation is currently exported through Transnet’s Saldanha Terminal, 840 kilometres south of Rosh Pinah. The completion of the railway effectively shortens the journey, with the Port of Luderitz only 230 kilometres away.
Long term thinking on the part of the Namibia Ports Authority is that the link will prove useful, with expansion efforts banking on using the Port of Luderitz as an accommodation facility for bulk coal, iron ore, manganese, and probable phosphate, paving the way for a deep water terminal at Angra point. The railway line is also envisaged to serve as a heavy haulage rail connection point for the manganese rich Hotazel area in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. South Africa accounts for 80% of the world’s known manganese deposits spread out between the North West, and Northern Cape provinces. The Port of Luderitz is also envisaged to serve as a gateway for the future export of coal from Botswana as well as yet to be developed Namibian coal originating from the Aranos coal basin which contains about 350 million tonnes of high-quality metallurgical coal. A N$4 million feasibility study carried out in 2012 by the Namibia Ports Authority sought to revise planned major expansions at the Port of Luderitz. It is envisaged that a new bulk terminal be built close to Diaz point.