031110 A new study has found that SA coal reserves have been significantly downsized since 2003.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 453

Maputo - Mozambique's Sena railway line, which transports coal to port from mines owned by Vale and Rio Tinto, reopened on Tuesday after protests blocked its tracks two days earlier, Vale said.

The line, the only railway currently available for transport from coal-rich Tete province, was blocked by brick makers whose businesses were resettled by Vale's mine and who are now asking the company to compensate them for a loss of livelihood.

The latest unrest highlights growing resentment in Mozambique where mining companies are struggling to contain expectations among a population where most people live on less than $400 a year.

“This morning, Tuesday, access to Vale's coal mine at Moatize was unblocked, permitting the normal movement of workers to the mine and re-establishing coal exports through the Sena line,” the company said in a statement.

Taibo Mahomed, one of the protesters who has been making bricks since 1994, said police arrived at the scene in the early morning hours to disperse the crowd and fired shots in the air.

“We've left. The police fired their guns, there are now two people in jail,” he told Reuters by phone. “Vale still has a debt to us, but right now we want them to release our two colleagues who are in jail.”

Police officials could not immediately be reached.

Vale added it was willing to engage in further talks with the brick makers, although the company said on Monday there were no grounds for the protesters' demands.

This is the second time line was suspended this year after heavy rains flooded parts of it in February, affecting Vale's and Rio Tinto's exports for weeks. - Reuters