By Michael Magoronga
Power utility, Zesa, has cut off electricity supplies to Kwekwe-based ferrochrome producer, Portnex Private Limited, over a bill estimated to be hovering above $28 million.
The firm produces ferrochrome using the Zimasco Western Plant on a five-year lease agreement. Zesa Holdings public relations manager, Mr Fullard Gwasira, confirmed the development to Business Chronicle.
“Yes, we withdrew power from Portnex and this is a normal credit control measure. That is the route the power utility company takes when those who owe us do not come forward for a payment plan or have a payment plan that they are not honouring,” said Mr Gwasira.
“I should hasten to say this was not a witch hunt as it could have happened to anyone else. We are just taking the normal routine that is meant to keep the power utility up and running.”
Although he could not be drawn into revealing the figures which he said were confidential between the two parties, it is understood that the bill had accumulated to an estimated $28 million since 2015.
Portnex general manager, Mr Deon Hefer, confirmed the plant was down but said the company was going through “routine maintenance”.
“Yes, we are down at the moment but we are just going through our routine maintenance and we should be back in business by next week Tuesday,” he said. Mr Hefer further indicated that production had been crippled by the power cuts.
“About the Zesa debt, its confidential; what you have to know is that we will be back next Tuesday. We are however, failing o produce despite us having a lot of stock against a massive demand for our product. But it’s not an issue, we will be back very soon,” he said.
Portnex and Zimasco signed a lease deal in 2015 that saw the former inheriting the Western Plant while Zimasco operates the Eastern Plant, which has two furnaces.
Only two of Portnex’s three plants are operational while the third one is expected to commence operations soon. Portnex produces 200 tonnes of ferrochrome per day using chrome ore supplied by tributaries mining on Zimasco claims. The Chronicle.