Feb 27 (Reuters) - Mining companies in Zambia, Africa’s No. 2 copper producer, should immediately start transporting 30 percent of their cargo by rail despite their concerns about inadequate capacity, the government said on Tuesday.
Zambia in January introduced a new law compelling mining companies and other bulk cargo handlers to transport at least 30 percent of their freight by rail as it looks to bolster the sector.
However, the Zambia Chamber of Mines said on Monday that Zambia was not ready to handle that amount of cargo and the potential impact on the mining industry had not been properly considered.
Zambia’s rail lines have a market share of only about 5 percent and the remainder is handled by road transport, government data show.
Transport Minister Brian Mushimba said in a statement Zambia’s two state-owned railway companies were already moving cargo such as copper as third parties through logistics firms.
The government consulted both the Chamber of Mines and individual mining companies before creating the new law, Mushimba said.
“We are proceeding with the implementation plan,” Mushimba said.
South African state-run logistics firm Transnet will lease locomotives and wagons to Zambia Railways to boost its capacity to handle bulk cargo. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; editing by Ed Stoddard and Jason Neely)