BRAZILIAN mining company and metals producer Companhia Vale do Rio Doce has won a 30-year concession to operate a 720 km section of Ferrovia Norte-Sul between Açailândia in Maranhão state and Palmas in Tocantins state.

The R$1·48bn deal was announced to the São Paulo stock exchange on October 3. CVRD ended up as sole bidder after two other consortia that had prequalified failed to make deposits required to take part in the bidding, according to local media reports. CVRD will pay in three instalments, with 50% of the total falling due when the contract is signed; this must take place within 60 days of the announcement. A 25% payment has to follow in December 2008, with the final 25% due when the 1638 km project is completed.

CVRD will be responsible for operations, maintenance, control and future improvements to the line, and the company plans to spend R$66m in 2007-10 on maintenance depots, fuelling points and other infrastructure along the route. The company has run the 225 km section from Açailândia to Estreito since 1996 — the 1600 mm gauge line connects at Açailândia with the Carajás Railroad, which is owned by CVRD.

Ferrovia Norte-Sul is being built by Valec, a subsidiary of the transport ministry, and a 213 km section between Araguaína and Guaraí is currently under construction for completion by December 2008 (RG 8.07 p498). The final 148 km from Guaraí to Palmas is due to be finished by December 2009. Ultimately the line will provide a link to central Brazil, meeting the existing network at Senador Canedo near Anápolis.