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ZIMASCO starts building two new furnaces

by Staff reporter
01 Sep 2022 at 06:29hrs | Views
ZIMASCO, a unit of China's Sinosteel, has started building two new furnaces at the Kwekwe complex as it targets to raise capacity by 40 percent, a spokesperson said.

The US$35 million investment will also involve the refurbishment of two furnaces and a sinter plant with an annual capacity of 300 000 tonnes at the same complex.

"The building of new furnaces in Kwekwe at the east plant and refurbishment of two furnaces at the west plant has started," Clara Sadomba said in a telephone interview.

Ferrochrome, alongside platinum and  diamonds, is among the mineral commodities expected to grow the industry to a US$12 billion economy by next year.

In 2021, export earnings from the sectors increased to US$5,2 billion, from US$2,9 billion in 2017, with the government remaining optimistic that the US$12 billion would be achieved.

Indications are that the revenues from the industry could reach US$8 billion this year.

Zesa recently said the increased activity in the mining sector was causing a huge supply electricity gap.

The growing demand is also inducing other significant industrial loads, ZESA said. Last year, the power utility received applications for new supplies from the mining industry aggregating to 2 100 MW by 2025. This is almost the country's current electricity production capacity

Zimasco, alongside AfroChine, another Chinese firm is Zimbabwe's major producer of ferrochrome used in stainless production and holds large tracts of unexploited claims.

The new furnaces will have capacity of 72 000 tonnes per annum and will raise Zimasco's ferrochrome production from the current 180 000 tonnes to 252 000 tonnes, the company said earlier.

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

To encourage investments in beneficiation facilities, the Government has since banned raw chrome exports, which analysts say will see more capital flowing into the sector. The Government also granted huge tracts of land to companies intending to establish integrated chrome mining and smelting.

The improved technology on the furnaces will improve operational efficiencies and reduce the cost of production thereby increasing the company's competitiveness.

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

Zimasco has been leasing its three furnaces to 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 about US$1,6 million. Global ferrochrome demand also decreased by 4,2 percent from 7.4 million tonnes to 7.1 million tonnes.

Global ferrochrome production is expected to grow by 8 percent from 14,4 million tonnes in 2021 to 15,6 million tonnes per year. The growth will be driven by China as power reforms restrictions that were in place in 2021 have largely been lifted.

China accounted for 60 percent of the global ferrochrome demand.

Global stainless steel production has declined by 2,67 percent from 30 million tonnes in June 2021 to 29,2 million tonnes.

However, some growth is expected for the full year. China continues to dominate in terms of global stainless steel production and accounted for more than half of the production.

Source - The Herald
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