Police fired bullets and tear gas on striking workers at Vale’s coal mine in Moatize, in Mozambique’s north-western Tete province, last week in an apparent attempt to get them to return to work.
Zitamar News’ correspondent in Tete was present at the shooting and says no one was killed or injured when members of the Mozambique police force’s Unidade de Intervenção Rápida (UIR), who were sent by the provincial government to break up the strike, opened fire on Friday, 19 February. The incident caused panic at a local primary school where classes were ongoing at the time.
Olívia Bravo, a Vale spokeswoman in Tete, told Zitamar on 18 February that some of the strikers had gone back to work. The group of strikers denied this was the case when Zitamar spoke to them on 19 February.
The strike began on Monday, 15 February, after workers learned they would not be paid a bonus linked to Vale’s global profits. Vale clarified in a statement that the bonus is being withheld from workers at all of its operations worldwide. The company’s management has also proposed not paying a dividend to shareholders in 2016 due to market conditions.
Production set to double in 2016
The company’s Mozambique operations delivered improved production results in 2015 versus 2014, however. In figures published on Thursday, 18 February, Vale said Moatize’s output of high quality metallurgical coal rose 8.9% in 2015 versus a year earlier, reaching 72% of the total 4.9 million tonnes of coal produced at the mine. Vale exports metallurgical coal while lower quality thermal coal is stockpiled at the mine in preparation for a planned coal-fired power plant to be built on the site.
A significant expansion of the mine’s operations, known as Moatize II, should be commissioned this year with final tests of the equipment expected next month, Vale said. The company expects to double production to 10 million tonnes in 2016, rising to 15 Mt in 2017, and 18Mt in 2019.
Meanwhile Vale’s new export corridor, taking coal down a rail line through Malawi to an export terminal at Nacala-a-Velha, has entered operation. By the end of January 2016, four ships had been filled for export, Vale said.