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Rio Tinto declares force majeure after Mozambique flooding

Keywords: Tags  coking coal, Rio Tinto, Benga Mine, Eqstra Holdings, Eqstra Mozambique, Walter Hill, CFM, rail transport coal

LONDON — Anglo-Australian mining major Rio Tinto Plc has declared force majeure on coking coal shipments from its Benga Mine in Mozambique after severe flooding halted rail movements.

Flooding has damaged the Sena rail line, the primary transport route for coal exports from the southeast African nation’s coal-rich province of Tete.

All mining operations at the Benga Mine were suspended Feb. 20, according to Rio Tinto subsidiary Eqstra Mozambique Ltda., which operates the mine.

"We are currently assessing the effect of this event and will keep the market informed of developments as they arise," Eqstra Holdings Ltd. chief executive officer Walter Hill said. The contractor has yet to determine how long the force majeure will last, he added.

"CFM, the Mozambican national railway company and operator of the Sena line, is making all efforts to restore the line as soon as possible," a Rio Tinto spokesman told AMM sister publication Steel First.

Rio de Janeiro-based miner Vale SA, which runs the Moatize coking coal mine near Rio Tinto’s Benga project, declared force majeure on a number of coal sale contracts from its Mozambique operations Feb. 18, citing issues on the Sena line following heavy rainfall earlier this month.

Mozambique’s extensive reserves of high-quality coking coal remain largely inaccessible to the seaborne market due to widespread infrastructure constraints.

The Sena line, which transports coal more than 300 miles from Tete to the coastal port of Beira, has been undergoing extensive refurbishment to bring its capacity up to 4 million tonnes per year, but refurbishment work was delayed last year when CFM dismissed contractors working on the line.

Rio Tinto has experienced a number of derailments on the line in recent months.

A version of this article was first published in AMM sister publication Steel First.

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