US$1bn steel project takes off

The Chronicle

Prosper Ndlovu in Manhize, Chirumhanzu

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday led the ground-breaking ceremony of the long-anticipated US$1billion integrated Dinson Iron and Steel Industrial Park being established in Manhize, Chirumhanzu District, in Midlands Province.

The giant project is expected to create 10 000 jobs directly and many more along the value chain while bolstering Zimbabwe’s import substitution and export focus to regional and global markets.

Implemented by the Chinese global investment group, Tsingshan Holdings’ subsidiary, Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco), the signature project is a culmination of the Second Republic’s bold decision to harness the mutually beneficial, comprehensive and strategic relations between Zimbabwe and the People’s Republic of China.

It is envisaged to generate downstream and upstream opportunities for local companies and small to medium enterprises, particularly women and the youth, who should now strategically position themselves for the possible spin-offs.

Project implementation is already in full swing on site near Mvuma, and President Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by his deputy Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Cabinet ministers, were shown part of the 25 percent works done so far on the ground. All the critical equipment to complete the first phase, including blast furnace material, have been delivered to the site.

Completed works include construction of the administration blocks, erection of platforms for blast furnaces, processing infrastructure and clearing of access roads, among other key preliminary stages, which have seen 600 workers employed.

The plant has huge iron ore reserves that could take the mine’s life to beyond 200 years with potential to produce 1,2 million tons of iron and steel per annum when at full throttle. The project constitutes a critical building block towards realisation of the US$12 billion mining economy milestone by 2023 and buttresses Government’s Vision 2030.

In his keynote address after the groundbreaking event and tour of the progress so far, President Mnangagwa described the giant investment as a “paradigm shifting milestone” in the country’s journey towards modernisation and industrialisation.

Coming on the backdrop of an array of other new investments and explorations, which have also resuscitated old mines, the President applauded China for continuing to support Zimbabwe, which has seen Zimbabwe benefitting from a wide range of investments from Beijing across all sectors of the economy. 

“Through this investment our country will now host one of the largest iron and steel manufacturing plants on the continent. It’s expected to produce about 600 000 tons of steel per annum, over and above other related products,” said President Mnangagwa. 

“It (the project) is envisaged to leap-frog us to emerge as a dynamic industrial hub, churning out a broad range of value-added, ‘Made in Zimbabwe’ iron and steel products, for both local and international markets.”

Given Dinson Group’s global footprint, President Mnangagwa said the company’s investment was a confidence boost for Zimbabwe as a favourable business destination. The company already has invested in coal to coke processing in the Hwange area of Matabeleland North province, which will feed into the steel project while also closely linking up with limestone mining operations in Masvingo and ferrochrome value chain in the Midlands and Mashonaland provinces.

“The intricate nexus between the growth of the mining sector, local beneficiation and value chain across all levels in the mining sector cannot be overemphasised,” said the President.

“Hence the local beneficiation of and value addition of our abundant natural resources, particularly iron and steel, is set to accelerate and drive the economy high up the value chain.

“Metals and in particular, steel as a raw material and intermediate product are critical in the development of any nation. The production usage and consumption of steel products have been regarded widely as an indicator of economic progress and overall sustainable socio-economic development.” 

Over and above the upstream and downstream linkages, the President said the project would have a huge social transformation impact through key service delivery aspects and support infrastructure such as roads, construction of a dam, railway track, power line, schools and bridges, clinics and houses for accommodation.

“A new ‘Smart City’ is envisaged to be developed and is anchored by the strategic national project. Going forward and guided by the work ethic of the Second Republic, Government ministries, departments and agencies, are directed to accelerate the finalisation of the master plan of the proposed Smart City,” he said. 

President Mnangagwa has since directed the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and other relevant stakeholders to set up a platform to continuously share and deepen insights into international best practice in iron and steel production. He also charged Ministries of Industry and Commerce and Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development to strengthen collaborative skills development to support the sector to ensure realisation of broader national benefits.

In his remarks, VP Chiwenga said the new iron and steel plant was a milestone for Zimbabwe and a demonstration of the positive impact of the astute leadership of President Mnangagwa. He stated that the integrated model of the investment was critical in ensuring effective realisation of the goals set under the National Development Strategy (NDS1_2021-2025).

Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, said Zimbabwe was expected to reap billions of dollars as benefits from this investment and commended Dinson Group for taking the challenge to set up such a giant business unit in Zimbabwe.

Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Larry Mavima, expressed excitement over the US$1 billion steel plant saying the project was a huge boost to the province’s economy.

Chairman of the Dinson Group, Mr Chen Shang Song, said their company was determined to partner Zimbabwe in building a strong mining value chain. To date, he said his group has pumped in about US$500 million investment into the country and was looking forward to increasing total value to about US$3 billion. 

He said they were targeting to commission phase one of the project by October next year, which will be a big boost for the Government’s US$12 billion mining milestone.

Mr Chen also said they were planning to establish a 400kv power transmission line that connects Mvuma and Kwekwe as well as build a railway line linking the Manhize plant in Zimbabwe with Mozambique and the DRC.

This will be over and above several corporate social responsibility projects to be rolled out for the benefit of the community. He paid tribute to President Mnangagwa’s administration for facilitating smooth investment and applauded the country’s transformative vision towards an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

Zanu-PF spokesperson and former Ambassador to China, Cde Chris Mutsvangwa, Senior Government officials, Dinson executives, traditional leaders, industry and commerce representatives and hundreds of people witnessed the event. 

Article Source: The Chronicle

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