[Ferro-Alloys.com] THE US$1 billion steel manufacturing plant being developed by Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco) in Manhize, Mvuma is expected to cut steel imports into the country by at least 90 percent, officials say.
Disco, a subsidiary of the giant Chinese steel producer Tsingshan Holdings, is developing Africa’s largest integrated steel-manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe.
The investment, which the Government has granted a national project status, is expected to have its first steel blast furnace up and running by September next year.
Due to the closure of the Redcliff-based steel producer, Zisco in 2008, the country is spending over US$400 million annually on steel imports.
Given the importance of steel and iron products in supporting the operations of many other industries and industrialisation agenda, Zimbabwe’s steel import bill has since the closure of Zisco remained on the high side.
Speaking during a signing ceremony for the joint venture agreement between Zesa Holdings and Disco in Harare yesterday, setting the tone for the construction of a 400 kV transmission power line from Sherwood in Kwekwe to Manhize, Disco project manager Wilfred Motsi said:
“The first steel blast furnace will be in operation by September next year. The Disco plant will reduce the import of steel products by 90 percent if not by 100 percent.
“The equipment for the construction of the power line is already in Zimbabwe. Next week we are going to witness another signing off occasion with a contractor who is going to construct the powerline.”
He said a total of 10 000 people will be employed directly while over 50 000 people would be indirectly employed by the steel project.
Mr Motsi commended the Government for giving them the greenlight to partner ZETDC in the development of the power line saying this was not just a key enabler for the steel project, but a game-changing partnership and model that will have benefits for Zimbabwe’s economy.
“As you may be aware, my company is setting up Africa’s biggest steel plant in Mvuma, which is a greenfield integrated iron and steel operation alongside mining of iron ore. We applied to be connected to the national electricity grid in order to access the necessary power for our operations that require huge amounts of electricity and this had to be anchored on a totally new infrastructure development,” he said.
The environmental impact assessment exercise for the powerline has already been completed and approved. Added Mr Motsi: “The Forestry Commission gave us a permit to allow us to clear the power line wayleave and the Ministry of Lands identified the affected farmers and relocation process is underway,” he said.
Given the financial and logistical implications of this project and the turnaround time of delivering the steel plant itself, Mr Motsi said Dinson has offered to mobilise financial resources and expertise so that the investment could quickly take off the ground.
“I’m happy to report that, through the involvement of various stakeholders in Government and its departments, we were able to thrash all issues to reach the happy occasion we are witnessing today.
“We are pursuing a public private partnership (PPP) agreement with ZETDC with terms that will allow us to meet our electricity requirements while the rest will serve the public need.
“Indeed, during the first phase of our project at Mvuma steel plant, we will require only a fraction of our agreed electricity requirements, allowing for more electricity to be channeled towards other users in the economy,” he said.
Mr Motsi said with respect to the construction of the power line only, a number of benefits would rub off onto the communities and the provinces and strengthen the developmental thrust within the devolution agenda through localised development.
Disco anticipates that about 300 jobs will be created directly and indirectly by the transmission line project with the local people expected to benefit from the construction of the power line.
“Let me emphasise that, this is an opportunity for both skilled and unskilled labour and we will ensure that 75 percent of staff are locals from the communities adjacent to the power line.
“At completion, our power line will augment electricity supplies from the ZETDC while at the same time adding key assets on the books of Zimbabwe’s power utility,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) managing director Engineer Howard Choga said it was encouraging that the investment, which is a strategic national project was set to birth the largest customer project for Zesa requiring over 500MW in the next three years, which is equivalent to almost a third of today’s consumption.
“The establishment will also see the construction of two large power substations. On the other side, the integrated project comprises a carbon and steel plant, an iron ore mine and a ferrochrome plant which is poised to produce 1,2 million tonnes of iron and steel per year.
“This will be a huge boost to the country’s steel industry and is set to generate thousands of job opportunities at the same time improving the livelihood of the local community (Chivhu, Mvuma Manhize area),” he said.
“It should be noted that Zesa as a group is cognisant to the fact that electricity is a key enabler to the attainment of vision 2030, National Development Strategy 1 and 2 where we believe that no one and no place must be left behind in terms of our electrification agenda.
“The company is clear of its strategic response to the national vision.”
Source:Herald 30 May 2022