OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - French conglomerate Bollore and Pan-African Minerals signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday on a rail project worth $895 million, linking Abidjan in Ivory Coast to the Burkina Faso manganese deposit at Tambao.
The governments of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso also signed the agreement for the Abijan-Kaya-Tambao railway, following a summit between both West African nations in the Burkina capital.
Pan African Minerals (PAM), controlled by Romanian billionaire Frank Timis, is developing the manganese mine at Tambao in the northeast of Burkina Faso. It plans to invest nearly $1 billion and produce some 3 million tonnes a year.
Tamboa, which Timis says will be the biggest manganese mine in the world, is a priority for Burkina Faso’s government as it seeks to diversify its economy away from a reliance on gold and cotton.
Bollore will invest about 400 million euros ($535.60 million) to rehabilitate the 1,250 kilometre rail line between Ivory Coast’s commercial capital and Kaya, a town north of Ouagadougou.
“This will increase capacity and enable the shipment of the manganese and also 2 million tonnes of merchandise and about 2 million passengers,” said Philippe Labonne, head of Bollore Africa Logistics, the logistics arm of Bollore.
Pan-African Minerals will construct a nearly 300 km Kaya-Tambao link.
“The construction of the line will be done over the next three years. It will cost about 176 billion CFA francs ($359.32 million),” Alan Watling, Pan-African Mineral’s Chief Executive said at the signing.
Work on the railway will start in August.
($1 = 489.8100 CFA francs)
$1 = 0.7468 euros