- November 19, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Masvingo City’s sole heavy industry, Sponge Iron and Mining and Beneficiation Industries (SIMBI) is working on expanding its operations by injecting US$150 million to manufacture finished steel products and generate its own electricity to get around the power cuts that now make it’s business unviable.
The plans are being pushed even though SIMBI has been forced to stop production of its basic sponge iron after serious Zesa load shedding made its operations impossible.
SIMBI was producing sponge iron, part of which was exported to Zambia and other SADC countries, with the remainder being shipped to the firm’s sister company, Steelmakers in Kwekwe.
SIMBI, has been forced to cut its 150-strong workforce by half while waiting for the power supplies to improve so it can get back into production.
The company had stockpiled 8 000 tonnes of sponge iron which is being drip-fed into the market to clear space in the warehouse ahead of the resumption of operations.
General manager Mr. Anand Rao said SIMBI had long-term plans to expand its business. The planned value addition will create more jobs and new revenue streams for the company while also benefiting the city’s downstream industries.
Mr. Rao said they have applied to Masvingo City Council for more land to expand their plant.
“We are here to stay and our plan over the next couple of years is to invest around US$150 million to expand our plant so that we start manufacturing steel products at SIMBI,” he said.
The move to venture into steel manufacturing means SIMBI will not close again in the future. “The expansion project entails building of a power-generating plant with an output of more than 20MW of electricity.
“We are going to build a rolling mill, an induction furnace and an oxygen plant in addition to the power plant and this will see us producing steel products like pipes and even bolts which are in high demand both locally and outside the country,” said Mr. Rao.
Production of both sponge iron and steel products by SIMBI means the company can bank on either of the two even when chips are down. “Once we start producing steel products we will not stop running the plant because if sponge business is low we will leverage on steel products and vice versa.”
SIMBI was optimistic council would positively respond to its application for additional land in the Masvingo industrial area.
Masvingo acting town clerk Engineer Edward Mukaratirwa confirmed SIMBI’s application for land_The Herald