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Zimasco to switch on Western Plant, seeks higher output

MIDLANDS-based ferrochrome producer, Zimasco, is carrying out rehabilitation works at its West Plant, as it prepares to restart operations at the furnaces.

The development comes after the expiry of a five-year lease agreement between the company and Portnex, who ceased operations in 2019.

Portnex and Zimasco signed a lease deal in 2015 that saw the former operating the Western Plant while Zimasco operates the Eastern Plant, which has two furnaces.

The Western Plant has three furnaces.

Portnex stopped using the plant in 2019 citing “operational challenges” before its lease expired in December 2020.

Zimasco has been using the Eastern Plant, which it switched on in October last year after a seven-month break induced by the Covid-19 disruptions.

General manager marketing and administration, Ms Clara Sadomba, confirmed the development.

“At this stage we can confirm that indeed it is Zimasco’s intention to restart operations at our Western Plant furnaces as soon as practicable and assessment of the same is ongoing,” she said.

Ms Sadomba could however, not be drawn into commenting further on the Portnex deal.

“As you will be aware the lease with Portnex came to an end at the end of 2020 after they had ceased operating the Western Plant at the end of 2019.

“You may also be aware that there are various litigation matters still ongoing between Portnex and ourselves and other parties as well. These legal matters preclude us from answering some of the questions,” said Ms Sadomba.

The Western Plant is expected to increase production by more than 100 percent for the company.

The company temporarily halted operations last year as the European market for stainless steel weakened as a result of Covid-19.

When operating at full throttle, Zimasco has an average annual turnover of about $200 million with a potential to employ more than 2 000 people.

At present, the mining and smelting concern employs about 700 workers directly and if the reopening of the Western Plant is successful, the number is expected to double.

Zimasco is an integrated ferrochrome producer in Zimbabwe and operates chromite mining locations in Shurugwi, Guinea Fowl, Lalapanzi, Mutorashanga and tributary operations along the Great Dyke of Zimbabwe. Chronicle

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