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Transforming Regional Logistics: The Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor

Publish date: 19 June 2024

The Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor, commonly known as the “Lobito Corridor,” is poised to revolutionize logistics across the region. This rail line connects the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Copperbelt to the port of Lobito in Angola, spanning 1,289 kilometers eastward from Lobito to Luau, a border town in Angola. Beyond Luau, the line extends another 450 kilometers into the DRC, reaching Kolwezi via the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (SNCC) rail network. Notably, the railway passes within five kilometers of the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex and through the Western Foreland Exploration Project.

On December 23, 2023, the first trial shipment of approximately 1,100 tonnes of Kamoa-Kakula’s copper concentrate was loaded onto rail wagons at the Impala Terminals warehouse in Kolwezi. This shipment travelled westward along the Lobito Corridor, arriving at the port of Lobito eight days later.

Currently, Kamoa-Kakula relies on trucks to transport its copper concentrates by road across sub-Saharan Africa to ports in Durban (South Africa), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Beira (Mozambique), and Walvis Bay (Namibia). In 2023, approximately 90% of Kamoa-Kakula’s concentrates were shipped to international customers from the ports of Durban and Dar es Salaam, with each round-trip taking approximately 40 to 50 days. The distance to the port of Lobito is roughly half that to Durban, and rail transportation is notably faster and far less energy-intensive.

Upon reaching full operational capacity, the Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor will dramatically enhance regional logistics and significantly cut down the Scope 3 carbon emissions associated with Kamoa-Kakula’s copper exports.  Additionally, the development of Ivanhoe Mines’ current and future copper discoveries within the Western Foreland basin will benefit from this corridor.

Ivanhoe Mines Founder and Executive Co-Chair, Robert Friedland, emphasized the strategic importance of the Lobito Corridor, stating, “The Lobito Corridor is set to become a crucial trade route for copper and other critical minerals from a uniquely strategic region of Africa… metals that are so desperately needed for our planet’s energy transition.”

The Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor stands as a testament to the transformative power of partnerships and strategic infrastructure in fostering sustainable development and enhancing global trade routes.

 

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