By Tendai Sahondo
HARARE (Mining Index) – RESURRECTING ZISCO steel does not require a magician or a mega-deal but good old innovation and foresight claims Dosman Mangisi, the Chief Operating Officer of Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries (ZIF).
In an intriguing interview with Mining Index, Mangisi said exploiting a few low hanging fruits such as the ZISCO foundry coupled with reasonable investments could see the white elephant coming back to life.
“It is no secret that the current state of ZISCO steel is nearly hopeless, there is need to change the business model so as to resurrect the steel plant. ZISCO has a foundry which boasts of a copula furnace that could be harnessed to breathe life into Redcliffe and Kwekwe,” he said.
Mangisi said ZISCO could use all the obsolete equipment at its disposal as raw materials for the foundry unit.
“ZISCO could easily be manufacturing mining equipment such as mill bows, liners, hammer mill bitters, pulleys and clamour blocks in no time. The steel giant could then spread its wings into the agriculture sector by manufacturing agricultural machinery. A market also exists for ZISCO in the transportation business and industry at large. The firm can provide industrial machinery as they have a fully fledged machine shop and electric rewinding motor,” he said.
Furthermore, Mangisi said ZISCO should set up sizable 100 tonne capacity blast furnaces to process iron as there is a shortage of pig iron in the sector
“The foundry unit has a major challenge of scrap metal, however ZISCO can provide pig iron, which is a good substitute. Following the articulated business model could lead to an off-take of at least 1000 employees at ZISCO as opposed to the current 200, by end of next year, they could be employing 2000 and 5000 in 5 years, not forgetting the downstream activities,” he said.
The ZIF CFO said ZISCO could also expand its operations into Manganese and Silica so that it becomes the hub of the foundry industry in Zimbabwe.
“Foundry players are currently buying raw materials in South Africa yet this could be provided by ZISCO. The firm can also invest in coke ovens to centralise coke production,” he added.
He however said for the plan to work government needs to protect the foundry sector by banning imports with emphasis on import substitution through ZISCO products. ZISCO, he said, could then benchmark the price of products to make them competitive against imported products as the steel firm has abundant raw materials.
“Reviving ZISCO will inevitably cut our import bill as equipment and machinery importation takes a huge chunk of the cake. This will hedge the Zimbabwean dollar as there will be less demand for foreign currency.
“This is a very simple model focused on both raw materials and finished products that could be easily implemented with modest funding. We have a strong conviction that there is a viable market for the outlined model,” he said. ENDS// www.miningndex.co.zw
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