South Africa's Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is assuming responsibility for the first coal exports from neighbouring Botswana, which started to be dispatched from the Port of Durban as of May. The company signed similar agreements in August with both Mozambique and Swaziland, which should result in a doubling of coal and magnetite exports — up to 6mt (million tonnes) this year — through Maputo.

In the agreement signed with Botswana two weekly block trains, consisting each of 35 wagons, will operate between Morupule colliery, which is located near Palapye, and Durban.This will require a change of locomotives at the border because of differences in gradients.

Previously, Botswana had looked at using either Maputo, in Mozambique, or Walvis Bay, in Namibia, because of the long distance to the port of Durban and also associated high port costs there, although finally settled on the South African port following a feasibility study.

In future,TFR also hopes to transport several million tonnes of copper from DR Congo and Zambia by rail to Durban.