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Tsingshan’s Chivhu project a game-changer

Stainless steel manufacturer and parent company for Afrochine – Tsingshan Group’s continued investments in the country and latest project in Chivhu, will be a game changer for Mashonaland East Province and the whole country in the medium to long term.

From job creation, exports and enhanced foreign currency earnings to massive infrastructure development projects, the newest project is expected to transform mining business in the province as well as across value chains.

This comes as the group is set to commence construction of what will become the country’s and the region’s biggest carbon steel plant to be developed in Chivhu in Mashonaland East Province.

The project- the Manize Project lies on the Manize Mountain range and will have a turnover of about US$1,5 billion a year from operations from a processing plant and an iron ore mine.

The project will have capacity of 1,2 million tonnes a year. Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, said the project, the biggest single production unit will be situated on a 3 000 hectare piece of land.

It will have a 1,5km by 600 metre carbon and steel plant, an iron ore mine and a ferrochrome plant with an annual production of 500 000 tonnes.

“The project entails carbon and steel, not stainless steel because we currently do not have enough nickel for stainless steel.

“Development of this project should see upto 4 000 to 5 000 people benefit through employment across value chains,” said Minister Chitando speaking at Afrochine complex in Selous, at the launch of the inter-ministerial committee to spearhead the implementation of the project.
Stakeholder engagements have already started with the launch of committee. Afrochine is now the country’s biggest chrome smelter while Tsingshan produces 25 percent of global steel.

Infrastructure development

Apart from the physical infrastructure to be developed at the Manize, the project will see major projects that cut across transport, housing, energy and water infrastructure to benefit not only the mining giant but the entire community in the province.

Minister Chitando has indicated a 50km railway line will be developed to link the site with Mvuma.

Without giving finer details, the group is also planning to construct a dam along the Munyati River.

“This project will require a lot of uninterrupted water supplies. Tsingshan has already identified a site for dam construction and will need approvals from relevant authorities.

“A project of this magnitude cuts across Ministries and value chains, which is why an inter-ministerial committee has been formed to ensure the necessary enablers for the project are in place.

“We are going to need a railway line that links the site with Mvuma, so Ministry of Transport and NRZ (National Railways of Zimbabwe) will be busy with that,” he said.

Value addition, exports and import substitution

The mega project also supports the value addition and beneficiation initiatives, which will boost foreign currency earnings as opposed to exporting raw ferrochrome.

An estimated 700 000 tonnes from the project should be for the export market while savings of US$500 million will be achieved from import substitution.

“At full production, this project will be a major contributor to the US$12 billion revenue sector. By 2023, it should be up and running. There is going to be foreign currency generation and huge savings from this project from exports as well as import substitution,” said Minister Chitando.

Afrochine managing director Benson Xu, indicated management at the group was happy with their investments in Zimbabwe and expected to contribute towards the country’s economic turnaround.

“We have even increased our furnaces here (Selous) because of our great vision for Zimbabwe. We are excited to be significant contributors to the US$12 revenue sector,” said Mr Xu.

The chrome sector and its contribution to the economy cannot be overlooked. Zimbabwe is home to the second largest chrome ore resources with an estimated 900 million tonnes while global resources are at 7,5 billion tonnes. Initiatives such as the Manize Project become critical as they feed into value addition and beneficiation initiatives. Value addition and beneficiation have been indentified as key enablers to economic growth. As such, Government has been pushing for mining companies to value add minerals in order to enhance export earnings and boost job creation as opposed to exporting minerals in their raw format.

New town

The implementation of the project is also expected to transform Chivhu into a vibrant town with enhanced infrastructure such as housing.

“I believe they had already planned for a town in Chivhu area for their employees and other developments because what we want to see also is for Chivhu to grow because of those companies coming now,” said Minister of State for Mashonaland East Aplonia Munzverengwi during a visit to the site for the multimillion dollar project early this month.

The Chinese stainless steel giant has other investments in the country such as those in Selous and Hwange where an energy park is being developed with four projects and one of them expected to be officially commissioned by President Mnangagwa in July.

Tsingshang is expected to visit the country in July for high level engagements with the President and will have four programmes.

The first program will be to commission two furnaces in Selous, while the second programme will be in Hwange to commission a 150 000 tonne coke battery plant and ground breaking for another 150 000 tonne plant. Thereafter, ground-breaking of the Manize Project will follow. BusinessWeekly

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