Still with Admiral Mendeleev in command,

 

my essay then navigates through the food-business and the phosphates of Evate (Nampula/Mozambique), and progresses towards a couple of minerals from Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which, besides its natural radioactivity, do share a strategic relevance in the global hitech civil and military markets – titanium, heavy sands and rare-earths for example, but not the uranium which appears to be a no-starter before 2025 in face of the $20-30 billions likely to be soon invested in the australian Olympic Dam by BHP Billiton, and the magnitude and readiness of the huge uranium deposits in South Africa and Namibia.

 

The main feature of the latest mining race in the Afro-Índico is not really about its maritime intensity (just an extra 5-7 MTPA), but about the strategic importance of the final products – as much so that two major global players have lately join the race.

 

Like China for instance that, while imposing unilateral embargoes to the exports of its rare-earths – thus causing a sudden and costly disruption of supply to hitech companies overseas – is frantically trying to secure a number of key mineral positions in the Afro-Índico.

 

Although not much interested in Coal, in less than 4 years China established however a quite strong foothold in the regional industry of highly valued minerals and metals, either through acquisitions of rare-earths and nickel deposits in Malawi (Machinga and Kanyica) and Mozambique (Mount Muambe), platinum mines (South Africa and probably Zimbabwe), or by direct investment on titaniferous fields (Sangage/Mozambique).

 

Meanwhile, the much coveted renaissance of Zimbabwe’s mining industry brings a couple of mega-challenges and another key global player filling the void created by the US/UE sanctions to Zimbabwe – and that’s India.

 

Whilst it is premature to assert that the geopolitics of Zimbabwe’ future exports (Europe and Americas) will tempt the country (and even Zambia) to privilege Atlantic routes via Walvis Bay through the Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Kalahari’ corridors, it is an undisputable fact that Essar and India are definitely looking for the revamp of Zimbabwe’s traditional routes via Mozambique onto the Indian Ocean.

 

They know for sure that the Beira route is almost completely taken by mozambican coal exports until 2020, and that Zimbabwe is left just with the Maputo railways and port facilities via South/Limpopo system, which are clearly insufficient for accommodating the mega-tonnes of minerals they are willing to export.

 

Accordingly, Essar and Zimbabwe’s authorities started to float a number of impressive options: one relates to the erection of the longest iron-ore duct in the world linking Mwanesi (Chivhu) and Ripple Creek to Beira where they consider the construction of, not one, but two new  terminals at Beira or nearby: one for iron-ore (20 MTPA) and another one for coal (20 MTPA).

 

While it is certain that none of these developments will be commissioned before 2020, these prospects should not be discounted in the Indian Ocean’s seaborne trade of the next decade (2020-2030).

Energy and Mining Corridors 2020

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