Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Aluminothermic plant launched by President Mnangagwa last month at African Chrome Fields (ACF) is creating 50 new jobs and producing 600 tonnes of Ultra Low Carbon High Grade Ferrochrome (ULCHGFeCr) per month.
The plant at Zimbabwe’s biggest chrome miner, ACF, is set to further increase the company’s range of products through the addition of ULCHGFeCr and boost employment across ACF’s operations.
The technologically-advanced plant will initially produce 300 tonnes of ULCHGFeCr and is expected to ramp-up production to 600 tonnes of ULCHGFeCr per month at full production.
The Aluminothermic Plant creates certain by-products that have economic value and will be sold as a secondary income from the Plant.
“The launch of this plant created 50 new jobs, bringing the total number of employees at ACF to over approximately 1 250, further increasing employment in the region. ACF’s new Aluminothermic Plant will increase the economic value of the high-grade chromite ore by removing large quantities of gangue minerals, resulting in the production of a higher grade ferrochrome with minimum impurities,” said ACF national projects liaison officer, Mr Ashruf Kaka.
He said one of the more important reasons for beneficiation of chromite by way of the Aluminothermic Plant is due to the lack of electricity at ACF’s remote location.
“The process used by the Aluminothermic Plant requires no electricity and allows ACF the opportunity to increase the economic value of the chromite it mines by way of beneficiation. Beneficiation of raw material is in line with the Zim-ASSETS programme endorsed by the Zimbabwean Government,” he said.
“The Aluminothermic Beneficiation Plant is a very exciting step both for our flagship operation, and for the development of Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome industry. Zimbabwe currently sits on over 12 percent of global chrome reserves and we want to help the country fulfil its true potential as a major global player in the production and beneficiation of this vital stainless-steel ingredient.”
ACF chief technical officer Mr John Drummond, said the aluminothermic process is not only more efficient, but cleaner as well, when compared to more conventional methods.
“The specific recipe and know-how of the Aluminothermic Plant for this manner of beneficiation is unique to ACF. The main ingredient being the high-grade ferrochrome that ACF mines alluvially,” he said.
The plant, which took just over 10 months to complete since approval from the Environmental Management Agency, has been well received by the local community, government officials, and environmental auditors.
ACF is operated by the Moti Group and Sakunda Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, which are the majority and minority shareholders respectively.
ACF produces high grade chrome and has tripled production levels to 30 000 tonnes of chrome ore per month since being acquired in 2014.