TSODILO Resources Limited, which has diamond and iron mining projects in north-western Botswana, this week became the first mine from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to join Namibia's corridor manager, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG).
WBCG is a public-private partnership established in 2000 to promote the utilisation of the Walvis Bay corridors to the port of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz in Namibia.
It engages in business development activities with the goal of increasing cargo for ports and corridors linked to it, and to engage in the facilitation of corridor and infrastructure development.
It also serves as the marketing agency on behalf of all its private and public members to promote the port of Walvis Bay through the corridors as an entry and exit point to and from the SADC region.
WBCG chief executive officer (CEO) Mbahupu Tjivikua says Tsodilo is the first mining outfit to join the corridor group's associated membership programme, which is aimed at growing the organisation's membership base to strengthen its standing as a public-private partnership.
"Facilitating trade and business connections is a crucial activity to ensure we see the growth of cargo volumes on our corridors," he says.
"We are excited to collaborate with Tsodilo Resources to see increased business opportunities for our transport sector," Tjivikua says.
Mines in the region are big customers, especially in landlocked countries, and are in need of proper logistics infrastructure to link them with their international markets.
The WBCG is making sure these new prospective members know about its corridor systems and cutting-edge port and container-handling facilities.
Tsodilo Resources CEO James Bruchs says of specific importance to Tsodilo is the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lumumbashi Development Corridor (WBNLDC), which connects Namibia, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Tanzania.
According to him, the WBNLDC provides the shortest route between the Namibian west-coast ports of Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, and the vital transport hubs of Livingstone, Lusaka and Ndola in Zambia, Lubumbahi (southern DRC), and Zimbabwe.
"This corridor is perfectly positioned to service the two-way trade between the SADC region and Europe, North and South America, and emerging markets in the East," Bruchs says.
He says the portion of the corridor between Grootfontein and Katima Mulilo located on the Zambia border is the portion of the corridor leading to the Xaudum Iron Project, and is currently connected by a grade A bitumen highway used for the transportation of goods and services.
In March, however, the Ministry of Works and Transport commissioned a feasibility study for the Trans-Zambezi railway extension (Grootfontein-Rundu-Katima Mulilo).
The proposed extension between Grootfontein and Katima Mulilo is significant to Tsodilo as it is planned to pass through Divundu in Namibia, which is located approximately 35 km from Tsodilo's licence location in northern Botswana.
This feasibility study is one of the project components implemented under the Namibian Transport Infrastructure Improvement Project.
The consultancy services are funded by the African Development Bank and the Namibian government.
"The proposed rail extension is an important development for Tsodilo as it opens up a proximate rail transportation system for the delivery of the projects' potential iron products, such as iron concentrate, iron pellets, potential direct-reduced iron products, and ferrosilicone products, throughout central, eastern and southern Africa, as well as international markets," Bruchs says.
The WBCG is an integrated system of tarred roads and rail networks accommodating all modes of transport from the port of Walvis Bay via the Trans Kalahari, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor, Trans-Cunene and Trans-Oranje Corridors, providing landlocked SADC countries access to transatlantic markets.
The corridors link Namibia with Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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