- November 10, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Chinese firm Tsingshan Holdings Group’s plans to build a US$1 billion stainless steel plant in Mvuma remain firmly on course amid indications that Zimbabwe’s strategy to ramp up ferrochrome production is designed to also cater for the company’s feedstock requirements.
The company, one of the biggest producers of stainless steel products in the world, specialises in castings, steel bars, steel wires, steel plates and other products, which are mostly exported to South-East Asia.
Tsingshan signed a US$1 billion outline agreement with Government in July last year, and intends to build a two million tonne-per-annum stainless steel plant in Zimbabwe.
The firm will also mine a number of minerals needed for steel production.
The Chinese company recently expanded its plans for the Zimbabwe steel plant to include a power plant and lithium extraction.
Tsingshan is already undertaking resource evaluation for coal, chrome and nickel, which started in the second quarter of this year.
Tsingshan’s steel investment is part of the several multimillion-dollar deals that President Mnangagwa’s administration has inked since coming into power in 2017. The projects are at various levels of implementation.
Other projects include the US$4,2 billion platinum mining venture by Cypriot firm, Karo Resources, where exploration is already underway, with thousands of drills done on-site. An aero-magnetic survey was concluded earlier this year.
Zimbabwe’s foreign policy under President Mnangagwa has shifted from focusing on political issues to emphasis on economic ones.
The policy is designed in a way that aids Zimbabwe’s economic recovery, facilitates growth, creates employment and encourages a climate that is conducive to attracting investors into the country.
The government is working towards growing Zimbabwe’s economy to middle-income level by 2030, a vision espoused by President Mnangagwa. Initially, Tsingshan intended to produce chrome, nickel, iron and coal.
However, the fresh plans will see the company constructing a 600-megawatt power plant in two phases, as well as venture into lithium extraction.
Tsingshan’s investment is expected to create more than 2 000 jobs. It will promote technology transfer and generate billions from Zimbabwe’s export proceeds.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando recently said plans to increase ferrochrome production were on course.
“Government signed an agreement with Tsingshan for the production of carbon steel. The main ingredients that go into carbon steel are ferrochrome, coke and iron ore.
“For that stainless steel production to commence, we have to ramp up ferrochrome production, which is happening. That is why we have the 500 000 tonnes (target by 2023),” said Minister Chitando.
He said Tsingshan’s plans will also entail ramping up coke production, which is produced from coal, to facilitate the steel production.
Minister Chitando said Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome producers are currently churning out 500 000 annually.
The planned ferrochrome production is expected to contribute towards the Government’s vision of growing exports from the mining sector to US$12 billion by 2023.
Ferrochrome production, as a sub-sector, is anticipated to generate US$1 billion in export proceeds.
Tsingshan’s Afrochine has already embarked on expanding its furnace capacity to increase output.
Prior to signing the stainless steel agreement with the Government of Zimbabwe, Tsingshan already had a footprint in Zimbabwe. Its unit, Afrochine, extracts chrome near Selous.
Major ferrochrome producing entities in Zimbabwe include Gweru-based Jinan, Zimasco, and ZimAlloys, which is set to resume production after years of dormancy due to financial challenges.
Cumulatively, the companies produced 360 000 tonnes, but are expected to increase output to half a million by 2023, that is excluding the products that will come from Afrochine’s expansion plans.
Tsingshan’s Afrochine produced 19 677 tonnes in 2018 and is expected to increase production capacity to 500 000 tonnes by 2023.
The other key minerals that are expected to drive the vision for a U$12 billion mining industry include gold, diamond, coal, lithium.
“The US$12 billion will be achieved, no question about that. The US$12 billion is made up of a target of 100 tonnes from gold, which will generate US$4 billion; platinum, which will generate US$3 billion; while chrome, nickel and steel will bring in US$1 billion. Coal and hydro-carbons will generate another US$1 billion, while diamonds will bring in US$1 billion. Lithium will generate US$500 million while the other minerals will bring in US$1,5 billion,” Minister Chitando said_The Sunday Mail