Works on $1bn North-West Railway to start

Railway construction
Railway construction

CONSTRUCTION of the US $1 billion North-West railway line is to start this year with the investor, North-West Rail (NWR) targeting the stretch between Kalumbila and Solwezi in North-Western Province for the initial part of the project.

NWR chairperson Enock Kavindele said in an interview in Kitwe recently that all was set for construction of the North-West railway line to start.

Mr Kavindele said the $1 billion North-West railway line project, which was a joint venture between NWR and Grindrod, was set to start this year under phase one.

He said phase one of the project would involve construction of the railway line between Kalumbila and Solwezi.

“The idea of starting from Kalumbila is that we have Kalumbila Mine there and there is the issue of having to transport copper concentrates from there to Solwezi where First Quantum Minerals (FQM) have a smelter,” he said.

Mr Kavindele said the development of the Kalumbila Mine and the construction of a smelter in Solwezi had raised transport business prospects in the region.

“At the moment, we are discussing with land owners settled on a stretch earmarked for construction of the railway line for possible compensation and once we are done with that, we should be getting to the ground to start the project,” Mr Kavindele said.

He said the need to construct a railway line in North-Western Province could not be over emphasised considering that the region had now assumed the status of the largest copper producer.

Mr Kavindele said with the many exploration projects currently being conducted, which would ultimately result in increased mining activities, the province was destined for greater economic boom that would demand for an improved transport network.

He said phase two of the project would involve the construction of a railway line from Solwezi to Chingola.

“At the moment, all the copper and concentrates are taken to Copperbelt by road and with the railway line in place, that will take away the traffic from the road to railway,” he said.