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Vol 55 No 16

Published 8th August 2014


The coal train derails

China's demand for coal drew big mining companies to Mozambique's world-class reserves but now they are frantically revising their forecasts

When Rio Tinto sold its stake in Mozambique's coal reserves on 30 July, alarm bells rang for the country's coal industry. The Anglo-Australian company took US$50 million, less than 1.5% of the $3.7 billion it had paid in 2011. The sale also raises more doubts about President Armando Guebuza's legacy ahead of October’s general elections, when he is due to step down. Presenting himself as a business-minded reformer, Guebuza promised to transform the economy by tackling bureaucratic inertia and bringing in billions of dollars of investment to exploit the rich coal and gas reserves. Business decisions are derailing those plans. It emerged on 4 August that another leading foreign investor in coal, Brazil's Vale, would follow suit. Its Chairman, Murilo Ferreira, told reporters in Brazil that the company would sell its stake in the open-cast coal mine at Moatize, Tete Province, one of the biggest in the world.

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