Grindrod said in an emailed statement on February 3 that it expects construction to begin by the end of the year, subject to the completion of a feasibility study on phase 1.

In a second phase, the line will be extended 300km to meet Angola's Benguela Railway near Jimbe. Phase 1 is intended to service existing ore and finished copper traffic, while phase 2 is intended to open up a new corridor to the port of Lobito, which would allow Zambia to import oil directly from Angola and could stimulate further mining activity in Zambia's Western Copperbelt.

The estimated capital cost of phase 1 will be $US 489m, while phase 2 will cost around $US500m. The new railway will reportedly have a design capacity of five million tonnes.

The government of Zambia granted NWR exclusive rights to develop the railway in July 2006.