Threats Halt Rio Tinto Coal Exports From Mozambique

Threats Halt Rio Tinto Coal Exports From Mozambique

"As for Rio Tinto's goods trains, the company decided to suspend them," the governor of the coal-rich Tete province, Rachid Gogo, told state owned Radio Mozambique.

MAPUTO, Mozambique—Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto (IW 1000/74) has halted coal exports from Mozambique after threats from former guerrillas against the rail line that leads to port, authorities said today.

"As for Rio Tinto's goods trains, the company decided to suspend them," the governor of the coal-rich Tete province, Rachid Gogo, told state owned Radio Mozambique.

The decision came after one of the company's trains derailed near the Malawi border on Monday.

"We are still investigating the reasons," Gogo said.

When contacted by AFP, Rio Tinto declined to comment on the report.

Last week Renamo, the former guerrilla movement turned opposition, threatened to block traffic along the only rail link from coal rich Tete province to the coast.

Renamo demands more representation in the armed forces and a cut of the country's coal and gas revenues.

Brazilian company Vale is still using the line to transport its coal to the coast, Gogo said, but local media said trains are running at half their usual speed as a precaution.

Highway Ambushes

There have been no attacks registered since last week's threats, but ambushes on vehicles along the main highway have killed at least two civilians since Friday.

Authorities have decided to stop passenger services on the Sena line as a precaution, said Gogo.

"In the face of these threats, passenger trains naturally had to stop in order to reduce the loss of human life," he said.

Part of the Sena line passes through Renamo's stronghold, Sofala province where port city Beira is the capital.

Last week Renamo vowed to "paralyze the movement of trains on the railway" between Beira and north western Tete.

The latest paralysis of Rio Tinto's exports is follows stoppages in February caused by heavy rains.

The recent attacks have raised fears of heightening political tensions and unrest in the country where until 1992 Renamo waged a brutal 16-year civil war that claimed around one million lives.

Talks which started in May with the communist-rooted Frelimo government have so far failed.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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