Brazil is interested in playing a major role in exploiting energy resources in the western Mozambican province of Tete, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza said on Saturday.
He was speaking at a rally in Manje, capital of the Tete district of Chiuta, on the first day of a working visit to the province.
Among Guebuza’s guests on the visit were the Brazilian and Chinese Ambassadors.
Guebuza told the crowd that Brazil wanted to invest in a new dam at Mepanda Nkuwa on the Zambezi river, some 60 kilometres downstream from the existing dam at Cahora Bassa.
He was referring to the consortium headed by the Brazilian heavy engineering company, Camargo Correia, which has been negotiating over Mepanda Nkuwa with the government.
The consortium delivered its proposals for Mepanda Nkuwa to the government in September 2007.
Construction of the new dam, estimated at US$1.6 billion, could begin next year, and it should start generating electricity in 2013.
It will produce 1,500 megawatts.
Guebuza also stressed that the Brazilian mining giant, the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), has the concession on part of the Moatize coal basin in Tete which will “put the country on the world map of coal production”
Preparations for the Brazilians to start mining are under way, and the company is currently resettling people living in areas that will be affected by the project.
A second mining company, Riversdale of Australia, is also working in Moatize and has licences for other parts of Tete which could eventually make it a larger coal producer than CVRD.
Both companies depend on the rebuilding of the railway from Moatize to Beira to move the coal to the sea.
Meanwhile, the report given by the Tete government to Guebuza said that between 2005 and 2007, the police caught more than 12,000 people crossing the border illegally.
Of these 8.892 were foreigners and 3,452 were Mozambicans.
Since Tete has lengthy and porous borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, it is almost certain that the police only caught a minority of those who entered or left the country illegally.
The number of foreigners entering Tete has increased sharply, largely because of the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.
In 2005, 968 Zimbabweans were caught entering Tete illegally, but in 2007 the number rose to 3,016.