The company’s first shipment of 34,000 tons will be delivered to a steel mill in India.

Rio Tinto Energy chief executive Doug Ritchie said the shipment marks an important point in the phased development of the company’s tier one coking coal resources in Mozambique.

"It is the first step towards our aim to become a significant supplier of hard coking coal to the seaborne market," said Ritchie.

"The Moatize Basin is one of the most prospective coking coal regions in the world."

"We are continuing to work with the Government of Mozambique to secure the development of comprehensive infrastructure for efficient transport of coal from mine to port, which is a priority for the further development of the region.

The Benga Mine is a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Tata Steel in which RioTinto holds the majority stake of 65% and India’s Tata Steel owns the remaining interest.