THE government of China has advanced a $39-million interest-free loan to the financially embattled Tanzania-Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA). Zambia’s Communication and Transport Minister, Geoffrey Lungwangwa, says that the money will be used to procure six locomotive engines and four wagons and to repair 120 wagons. The railway line was built in the early 1970s with the assistance of the Chinese. Lungwangwa says, since Zambia’s economy is growing, it will require a reliable railway line to cater for increased copper and agricultural production.
The line is the main link for landlocked Zambia to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam and the principal export route for copper and cobalt from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga province. Lungwangwa says a team of experts from China will soon be dispatched to work with TAZARA’s management to evaluate its viability and to carry out a comprehensive study on how it could link other countries through the railway network.
TAZARA currently has fewer than 300 of the 2 000 wagons it needs and has been working at around 40% of its capacity since 2000. It is also facing various legal suits from creditors, including suppliers and contractors, as well as former workers. This state of affairs has forced Zambia’s largest copper producer, Konkola Copper Mines, to resort to exporting the commodity by road, mainly through South African ports - (EngineeringNews).
Joint venture in mining
Two Chinese mining companies, Beijing Songshanheli Mining Investment Co. Ltd. and Jinchuan Mining have agreed to a joint venture to explore for nickel in Tanzania. The deal with Jinchuan will allow the exploration to happen as a joint venture with Jinchuan being the project operator a work expected to begin early this year.. In March 2009, Songshanheli was granted an option to buy Tanzanian Royalty's interest in the Kabanga nickel belt.
China's involvement in Tanzania goes back decades and encompasses a wide range of industries, including construction, mining and farming (Forbes & AP).