Study gives green light to 770km Namibian rail line

The new line rail system would connect Zambia to the port of Walvis Bay. Photograph shows Two ex-SAR Class 33 locomotives hauling a TransNamib train south of Keetmanshoop (Harald Süpfle/CC BY-SA 2.5)
A feasibility study into an extension of Zambia’s rail network into Namibia has found that the project is financially and environmentally viable and should go ahead.

The study was commissioned by Namibia’s transport ministry, carried out by Mumbai-based consultant MR Technofin and funded by the government of Namibia and the African Development Bank. It looked at a line running from Zambia to the border town of Katima Mulilo and on to Grootfontein, where it would connect with the Namibian rail system.

The main aim of the project is to stimulate the development of mining activity along the corridor running from the port of Walvis Bay to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This would allow Zambia, Namibia and the DRC to export copper and other minerals to buyers in China, Europe and America.

The rail network of Namibia, showing the Grootfontein spur (Htoni/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Canadian mining outfit Tsodilo Resources, which is active in the region, called the proposed extension “an important development”.

James Bruchs, the company’s chief executive, said in a press statement that the extension would open up a transport system for its Xaudum iron ore mine in Botswana, which is 35km from the proposed route. He said: “The key conclusion is that the proposed line is viable from a technical, environmental, legal, financial and economic standpoint and should move forward.”

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