The Polish company JSW Adams plans to mine coal in Zumbo district, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, according to a report on Radio Mozambique.

An Indian company has discovered a deposit estimated at 320 million tonnes of coal in the locality of Mucangadzi, about 100 kilometres from the Zumbo district capital.

The results of the environmental impact study for the proposed open cast mine have been divulged in Tete city, and consultations with the Mucangadzi communities who will be affected are under way.

The mining concession area covers about 5,000 hectares, and there is enough coal to keep the mine going for between 30 and 40 years. The initial investment by JSW Adams will be in the order of 20 million US dollars.

But an obvious problem with mining in Zumbo is that this is the most remote part of Tete. The roads are unreliable and there is no railway in the district. Any company hoping to export coal from Zumbo must first invest in a railway. Such a new line could link up with the existing railway through Malawi to the port of Nacala-a-Velha on the northern Mozambican coast, or could go further south to the proposed new port at Macuse in Zambezia province.

These logistical headaches, plus the fluctuations in the price of coal, should give any investor pause for thought.