( dpa ) - A consortium of US financiers threatened Sunday to withdraw 400 million dollars in funds to build the Northwest Railways link to Kansanshi Copper-Gold Mines and Lumwana Copper Mines in the northwestern province of Chingola on Zambia's Copperbelt.
Northwest Railways Limited chairman Enoch Kavindele said in Lusaka Sunday that the management of Kansanshi Copper Mines and Lumwana Copper Mines had not committed themselves to use the railroad scheduled for completion by 2010.
Kavindele appealed to the government to urge the mining companies to sign a commitment to use the railroad, Radio Zambia quoted him as saying.
Kavindele said: "We want to start construction but we cannot without major users, the mining companies, committing themselves to the use of the railway facility."
The railroad would reduce damage to the roads by trucks currently hauling copper concentrates from Kansanshi and Lumwana to the Copperbelt refineries.
Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande said last Friday that government would assist the private construction of the Northwest Railways, if management secured the construction plans and the commitment.
Both Angola and Zambia have concrete plans to build the railroad link to the Benguela Railways which is currently being rehabilitated. It was damaged during the 27-year Angolan Civil War.
Managements of both firms were not available for comment Sunday as efforts by telephone to Solwezi proved futile.