The line will connect Sinop in Mato Grosso with the river port of Miritituba in the neighbouring state of Pará, with traffic expected to include corn, soybeans, fertilisers, sugar, ethanol, and petroleum products.

Total rail freight demand on the corridor is forecast to exceed 25 million tonnes by 2020, and could reach 42.3 million tonnes by 2050.

The project has an estimated cost of Reais 12.6bn ($US 4bn), including construction, social and environmental compensation, land expropriation, signalling and power systems, railway equipment, and rolling stock.

According to Brazil’s National Land Transport Agency (ANTT), the tender for the 65-year Ferrogrão concession must be published in the first quarter of 2018, and the contract is due to be awarded in the third quarter of next year. The criterion for judging the best economic proposal will be the highest concession value.

The concession will be based on a vertically-integrated model with a single company taking responsibility for management of infrastructure and the provision of transport services.

The line will alleviate the busy BR-163 highway, which is used by lorries carrying grain for export. Currently more than 70% of Mato Grosso’s crop yield is shipped from the ports of Santos and Paranaguá, more than 2000km from point of origin.

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