TOKYO, May 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA plans to start exporting coal along the Nacala rail and port corridor in Mozambique and Malawi in the third quarter after heavy rains damaged the rail line, the firm's head of coal told Reuters on Friday.
The Moatize mine remains on track to reach a run rate of 11 million tonnes of coal per year by mid-2016, Vale Executive Director of Coal and Fertilizers Roger Downey said on the sidelines of the Japan-Africa Mining & Resources Business Seminar in Tokyo. Current production is 7 million tonnes per year.
Vale's Moatize project has been beset by logistics issues, with the difficulty of constructing and expanding the Nacala railway and port holding back production increases at the mine. The rail line runs for 900 kilometers (560 miles)from the Moatize mine, through land-locked Malawi, to the port of Nacala on the Indian Ocean. Vale had previously said it expected to ship coal from the new port in the first quarter of 2015.
Downey said the plan remained to increase production to 22 million tonnes of coal per year by 2017.
In December, Vale sold a stake in the project to Japanese trader Mitsui & Co Ltd. Mitsui bought a just under 15 percent stake in the mine and 35 percent in the rail and port.
Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Dan Grebler