THE planned US$1,8 million steel manufacturing plant in Bulawayo through a joint venture agreement between Primetone Investment, a local company and an Asian group companies, Kanku International, has failed to take off due to funding challenges.
In February 2019, a delegation from Kanku International in India visited the site of the proposed project in Kelvin Industrial Site and announced their strategic partnership discussion to build the steel manufacturing plant.
Speaking by telephone yesterday, one of Primetone Investment directors, Mr Kudzai Mumvuri, said the planned project has fallen by the way side.
“We had some challenges with those guys (Indian investors), they failed to raise part of the money that was required and they left,” he said.
“However, by the end of this year because we have found an investor locally, we will be able to bring what is required and then start the project sometime next year.”
It is hoped that if the latest project plan materialises, the proposed enterprise would create 250 jobs. Mr Mumvuri said when they were mobilising equipment for the plant, some of the equipment that was at the project site was stolen, further delaying plans to kick-start the investment.
“The other hurdle that we also encountered for the project is that when we were also trying to look for the equipment, thieves broke into the place and stole all the copper pipes and copper gadgets,” he said.
“That stripping also had an impact on the project.”
It is hoped that the coming on board of this new steel producing company would bring a lot of benefits in the engineering, iron and steel sector and the country at large. Following the demise of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) in 2008, the country is spending US$1 billion per year on steel related imports.
In addition, the closure of Zisco has also had some negative repercussions on the engineering, iron and steel sector, construction industry as well as the downstream industries.
Some of the companies have either scaled-down or closed operations as a result of the demise of Zisco, then the country’s largest integrated steel manufacturing plant in Africa.
At its peak in the late 1990s, Zisco employed 8 000 workers, producing one million tonnes of steel annually.
The Government, which is seeking a strategic partner to revive operations at the Redcliff-based steel plant, last month announced that it had extended expressions of interest on investors willing to invest in the defunct company due to the Covid-19 disruptions.