Trafigura-led group orders 275 wagons for US-backed Lobito rail

The Atlantic Ocean port of Lobito, Angola. (Image: Ivanhoe Mines)

A group including commodities trader Trafigura has ordered 275 new container wagons for a key railway linking copper mines in Democratic Republic of Congo to Lobito port in neighboring Angola.

Galison Manufacturing Ltd. in South Africa is producing the wagons and will deliver the first set by the end of the year, the group known as Lobito Atlantic Railway said in an emailed statement Wednesday. It didn’t disclose the value.

The group that also includes Portugal-based construction company Mota-Engil SGPS SA and railway operator Vecturis SA has been running the concession since January and plans to spend $500 million to refurbish the line. The US International Development Finance Corp.’s board on June 5 approved a $553 million loan to Lobito Atlantic Railway, according to the resolution posted to the Washington-based lender’s site.

The Lobito corridor is seen as a key export route from mines in Congo and Zambia for minerals critical to the energy transition, including copper and cobalt. The US and EU, under the Group of Seven’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, are supporting the project as part of efforts to counter China’s dominance in the central African copper belt.

The US lender had initially planned a $250 million loan to the group, which aims to cut cargo transit times from Congo to Lobito to days from the weeks it can take using other routes.

The Africa Finance Corp. is the lead developer of a planned new connection that will link mines in Zambia to the existing Lobito line in Angola. Italy committed $320 million to finance that project, according to a June 13 White House statement.

(By Matthew Hill)

Read More: Ivanhoe, Trafigura to be first users of Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor


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