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Africa's 'biggest steel plant' fires off furnace this December

by Staff reporter
21 Oct 2023 at 18:54hrs | Views
A Chinese firm, responsible for constructing what has been hailed as Africa's largest steel operation near Mvuma, Zimbabwe, has announced that it will commence its furnace operations in December as the US$1.5 billion project nears 80% completion.

Benson Xu, the CEO of Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco), shared that he is confident that the country will significantly reduce steel imports, ultimately saving foreign currency, once the Manhize plant becomes operational. Construction of the steel plant commenced last year.

"We are in the final stages of commissioning the plant," Xu stated. "Our target is December this year. We will open the blast furnace, which will produce pig iron. In March next year, we will commence steel production. By June or July next year, we will have steel from Manhize. This will enable Zimbabwe to meet its local demand without the need for imports."

Last year, the firm reached an agreement with the national power utility, Zesa Holdings, to construct a 100-kilometer powerline connecting the operation to the national grid.

Xu mentioned that work on the powerline is still in its preliminary stage. "The powerline is at an early stage. We have temporary power solutions that can help energize the plant," he explained. "For our project expansion, we will need a distribution line. Therefore, we are working closely with Zesa to implement the project."

Earlier this year, there were reports indicating that Zimbabwe's authorities had reached out to Mozambique's Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric power project to secure exclusive power imports for the steel and ferrochrome operation, which has an annual capacity of five million tonnes.

A Disco official stated that if the power import agreements, led by Zesa Holdings, are successful, dedicated power would be supplied exclusively from Mozambique's Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric power station for the project's requirements. This comes as a welcome development, given the electricity shortages faced by Zimbabwe.

The Mphanda Nkuwa power facility is located on the Zambezi River, about 60 kilometers downstream from the existing Cahora Bassa Dam near Tete, which occasionally exports power to Zimbabwe.

The total cost for completing the facility is estimated to be around US$4.5 billion, with the financial close expected by the end of next year, and commissioning set for 2031, according to the African Development Bank, which has been advising on the project since May. As many Southern African countries struggle with power generation, Mozambique appears to be positioning itself to address these issues by constructing facilities that can serve multiple nations, including Zimbabwe.

Source - the independent
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