COMMENT: New steel plant answer to Zim’s challenges

The Chronicle

We see much progress at Manhize, Midlands Province where Tsingshan Holdings, a Chinese company, is developing what will be sub-Saharan Africa’s largest iron and steel production plant.

Electricity has now been connected to the site, roads have been constructed, a cement mixing plant has been set up and houses for people to be displaced by the company are being built.  Work on a furnace has just started.

At full production, the US$1 billion project will contribute to national development in a big way through employing 6 000 people, reducing the steel import bill, enhancing local beneficiation of iron ore and steel, generating foreign currency, stimulating the growth of a new town at Manhize and improving the livelihoods of the local community.

“So far administration offices are under construction and are nearing completion, roads have been constructed to improve accessibility.

The company has already set up a cement mixing plant with a capacity of producing at least 60 cubic metres per hour. This is a commitment being fulfilled by the country and my company.

The first phase set to be completed within the next two years,”  Mr Benson Xu, Tsingshan Holdings general manager, told Chronicle on Thursday.

He said this is the third project being undertaken by his company after the Hwange and Chegutu projects. The group has already established a similar mine in Chegutu through its subsidiary Afrochine smelting plant located in Selous.

It also has a 150 000-tonne coke battery in Hwange.

“We are not going to stop here, but we are progressing. A steel industrial park will be set up here. There will be downstream industry which will be set up here. We are happy with the support we have been getting from the Government. If we fail on some issues, please advise us so that we do things properly,” he said.

We have not had a domestic steel industry since the collapse of Zisco around 2008.  However, within three to five years, that industry should have resurrected, with Tsingshan Holdings playing an integral role.

Manhize is one of the many impressive projects that are going on around the country as the Second Republic continues to create an environment that is conducive for investment and economic growth.

Our people can see for themselves the fruits that are accruing to their communities as a result of the sterling work by President Mnangagwa’s Government.

The work at Manhize must therefore be intensified.  The people want to see iron ore being extracted and processed into various steel products.

They look forward to securing decent, well-paying jobs.  They want to see that town emerging from what was bare ground.

The Zimbabwe Statistical Agency reported this week that the country imported steel worth almost US$410million last year, up from US$306 million in 2020.

This is a huge sum of money and we are sad to note that the country was not supposed to have spent so much importing steel when it has huge deposits of iron and chrome ore and other alloying elements.

We forecast an exponential growth in demand for steel given the extensive reconstruction of the economy that is happening and is set to happen countrywide as Zimbabwe industrialises.

New factories are being built while old ones are being refreshed and expanded; schools and hospitals are being built.  The Government is building roads, bridges and so on.

The projects cannot be undertaken without steel.
Fortunately, Manhize is coming up.

Hopefully, in the next three to five years there would be no need for the country to spend so much importing steel.  That is why we want Tsingshan to redouble its efforts on Manhize.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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