COALTRANS MOZAMBIQUE: Government has key role in Tete, says UN

The United Nations has called on Mozambique’s government to ensure that communities affected by its burgeoning coal industry are supported by effective infrastructure and local services.

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It is not necessarily the responsibility of miners to plan services for the communities in Mozambique’s booming coal hub, Jaime Comiche, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) told Steel First on the sidelines of the Coaltrans Mozambique conference in Maputo on Tuesday November 20.

Mozambique’s booming coal hub of Tete in the north of the country has seen its population multiply as miners and contractors have poured in to explore and mine the region’s millions of tonnes of coking and thermal coal resources.

Calling for Tete resource wealth to reach the most vulnerable communities in the region, Comiche said UNIDO had only recently become aware of the Tete area’s significance as a rapidly growing natural resource hub.

“The structures to capture and maximise the benefits of the sudden developments in the coal industry are not in place,” Comiche said,

“Local communities are being confronted with higher cost of living due to increase in food and housing demand,” he added.

Mining majors Vale and Rio Tinto have both started production at their Tete coking coal projects in the past 18 months. And Indian steel majors Tata and Jindal, as well as Japanese conglomerate Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Corp, also have coking coal projects in the region.

“Lots of people are flocking into the area. Traders and local business people are trying to take advantage of this and this is negatively [affecting] local people,” Comiche said.

Urging the government to look at long-term solutions and not just take the “quick win” option, Comiche said UNIDO would look to work with the Mozambican government to deal with the social aspects of the rapid development of the coal industry in Tete.