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December 3, 2019

Paving of Highway BR-163 in Northern Brazil is Now Complete

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The Brazilian National Infrastructure and Transportation Department (DNIT) confirmed to So Noticias last week the paving of Highway BR-163 from northern Mato Grosso to the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River has been completed. The Brazilian President is scheduled to inaugurate the completed project sometime in December.

This federal highway is one of the major transportation projects finished in Brazil this year. For the last several years, a short 50 kilometer unpaved section of the highway in a small mountainous area became impassable for weeks at a time during the peak of the rainy season. This resulted in enormous traffic jams of trucks in both directions causing truck drivers and regular motorists to be stranded for many days at a time.

After several years of embarrassing news about the highway, the Brazilian army was brought in to aid DNIT in completing the paving of the last 50 kilometers.

Thousands of trucks per day use this highway to transport soybeans, corn and other products from Mato Grosso to the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River, which is a southern tributary of the Amazon River (see map on next page). From there the grain is barged down the Amazon River to ports near the mouth of the Amazon. Completion of the highway is an integral part of increasing exports from Brazil's "Northern Arc" of ports.

This highway was opened decades ago, but it remained a dirt road for most of its existence and it was nearly impassable during the rainy season. Now that the paving is completed, there will be an even greater flow of grain northward to ports on the Amazon River.

Another very important infrastructure project for the Brazilian agricultural sector will be the construction of the Ferrograo Railroad from northern Mato Grosso to the Port of Miritituba. Bidding on the railroad is scheduled for early 2020 and it will take probably take 5-7 years to build. The railroad will basically parallel highway BR-163 and offer an even cheaper way to move grain northward out of Mato Grosso instead of transporting the grain 2,000 kilometers or more to ports in southeastern Brazil.

Below is a map of Highway BR-163 from the city of Cuiaba, which is the capital of Mato Grosso, to the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River. The city of Belem, which is located in the upper right hand corner of the map, is the main city at the mouth of the Amazon River. As a reference, the city of Brasilia is in the bottom right hand corner.