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Zimasco invests US$35m in new smelters

By Martin Kadzere

Zimasco — a unit of China’s Sinosteel — will invest US$35 million in new ferrochrome smelters at its Kwekwe complex, the company spokesperson, Ms Clara Sadomba said. This comes as the company targets to raise capacity by 40 percent by end of 2022.

Zimasco burns in 'financial, political storm'
In 2016 Zimasco was literally burning in ‘financial and political storm’

Zimasco, alongside Afrochine, another Chinese firm, are Zimbabwe’s major ferrochrome producers, which is used in stainless production.

It currently holds large tracts of unexploited claims. The new furnaces will have the capacity of 72 000 tonnes per annum and raise ferrochrome production from the current 180 000 tonnes to 252 000 tonnes.

The project will also include construction of a 300 000-tonne per annum sinter plant.

A sinter plant will enable Zimasco to use its friable ore resource, which it has been unable to use because of the old technology at the existing chrome smelters.

“A feasibility study for the project has been completed and design work is in progress,” Ms Sadomba said.

The improved technology on furnaces will better operational efficiencies and reduce production costs, thereby increasing competitiveness.

A five-year business plan, which takes into account additional ore requirements of the new furnaces together with a suitable mining plan, has been developed.

Last month, Government banned raw chrome exports to encourage investments in beneficiation and value-addition of the mineral, a development which analysts say will see more capital flowing into the sector.

Government also granted huge tracts of land to companies intending to establish integrated chrome mining and smelting.

“Further capex (capital expenditure), running into several millions, will be required for significant mines development to support the increased ore requirements.

“Discussions with ZETDC (Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company) for the supply of power for the new plant have been initiated,” Ms Sadomba added.

Zimasco has been leasing three of itsfurnaces to a South African firm, Portnex International.

Following the end of the Portnex lease at the end of 2020, two of the three west plant furnaces were being refurbished at a cost of US$1,6 million.

Work on Furnace Three is complete and it is expected to be switched on this month.

Zimasco expects to switch on Furnace Four in December and both furnaces (Three and Four) will operate at their previous capacity.

Evaluations on how to increase smelting capacity through upgrading the existing five furnaces at Kwekwe are currently underway. The Sunday Mail