Coal mining in Mozambique: how the extractive industry keeps investing in coal after the COP21 climate agreements.
The focus of the story is on the extractive industry and the consequences for the population and the resulting land grabbing. I have worked extensively in Mozambique in 1990 – 1991 during the war. I am in the areas where I was at the time, seeing human suffering, fighting and famine. There was no extraction of mineral resources on any level; they were actually not discovered yet.
The main focus is on the provinces of Tete and Nampula, in the north. The coal mining industry is for the greatest part fully operational and has grown explosively. Three companies operate here: Vale (Brazilian), Jindal and ICVL (both Indian). We had the permission to visit two mines (Vale and ICVL), which is quite rare to get the permission. Vale is currently producing 5 million tons a year and planning to push this to 22 million tons, which will make them one of the biggest coal mines in the world. They occupy an area of more than 23.000 hectares, which resulted in massive land confiscations and displacement of populations. They are building a fence around their concession.
Since 2016 a new railway line running from the mines to Nacala (a new deep sea port), is operating. We have spent a few days in Nacala looking at the port, the coal terminal and the displacement and pollution (fishing industry) it has caused.
Interestingly enough the price of coal has dropped to an old time low: $65 / ton, where two years ago it was still $350 / ton. Vale still mines but spends about $140 / ton on extraction, processing and transportion.
The story is interesting and relevant: at COP21 it was basically agreed that the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end. The coal industry in Mozambique is doing actually the complete opposite.
Text by Dutch journalist Sophie van Leeuwen, and video footage, including drone footage, is available on request.