Mozambique plans to expand the Quelimane port in the country's Zambezia central province to be able to handle 20 million tonnes of coal per year to meet fast-rising demand from producers setting up in the country, an official said on Tuesday.

Casimiro Francisco, the chair of the Mozambican Coal Development Association, also said the port could eventually be expanded further to handle 100 million tonnes.

By 2016 all the coal companies will be operating, including those whose projects are delayed, and all capacity at the Beira port will be used up. The country will need more solutions so we are looking at the Quelimane port as an alternative, he told Reuters on the sidelines of a Coaltrans conference.

Infrastructure constraints are the major hurdle for companies hoping to export coal from Mozambique and major investments are planned in coming years to boost capacity on rail lines, roads and ports.

The expansion of the port and an associated 500 km rail line linking the harbour with the mines should be funded by the private sector and Casimiro said companies have expressed their interest in doing so in exchange for allocation on the line and port.

More studies are ongoing to determine the costs and timelines for the project, he said.