Africa Moyo and Prosper Ndlovu
CHINESE global investor, Tsingshan Holding Group, has started construction of its second 150 000-tonne coke battery in Hwange, Matabeleland North Province, following completion last month of the first project of the same capacity.
Construction of a third coke battery and power station will start in November 2021, again in Hwange.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet received an update on the Tsingshan Consolidated mining and value-addition project, which is set to considerably contribute towards the achievement of the US$12 billion mining industry milestone by 2023.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Chinese investor has made notable progress towards operationalising its projects.
“Cabinet was advised that since the signing of an MoU in 2018, Tsingshan had completed two high carbon ferrochrome furnaces in Selous, in April 2021 and completed the construction of a 150 000-tonne coke battery in Hwange in April 2021,” she said.
“In May 2021, the company commenced construction of an additional 150 000 tonne coke battery. Tsingshan will in November 2021 commence construction of a third coke battery and a power station in Hwange area.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said a ground-breaking ceremony for the iron ore mine as well as a carbon steel plant will be held in July at Manhize area in Mvuma.
Analysts say the Tsingshan project is a game-changing investment for Zimbabwe and potentially for Africa given its huge economic multipliers on rail and road, logistics, power generation and transmission.
It is being suggested that Zimbabwe should consider looking into assembling electric vehicles in Chivhu-Mvuma once the project takes shape.
Further, experts say Chivhu and Mvuma need to be planned as smart cities, as they have potential of becoming the future Shenzhen of Africa.
Shenzhen, in south-eastern China, is a modern metropolis which links Hong Kong to China’s mainland and is known for its shopping destinations, including Luohu Commercial City, a massive mall with a vast array of wares, from tailors’ custom clothing to faux designer bags.
The city also features contemporary buildings, such as the 600m-tall skyscraper Ping An International Finance Centre, and a number of amusement parks.
Cabinet has since set up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the Tsingshan Consolidated mining projects, she said. The ministries in the committee are; Ministry of Mines and Mining Development whose permanent secretary will chair proceedings while others include ministries of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Energy and Power Development, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Local Government and Public Works, Finance and Economic Development as well as Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
Tsingshan expects to be a net exporter of power by 2023 through contribution of coal mining, coke production and energy generation capital projects mainly situated in Hwange.
Construction of coking plants at Dinson Colliery Company is in two phases and about US$30 million has been invested in the first phase with the same amount set aside for phase two.
The company started building its plant in 2019 but progress was stalled by the outbreak of Covid-19 until the Government engaged its Chinese counterparts to facilitate the return of experts who had been locked in the Asian country to complete the projects.
Tsingshan is a top player ranked number 329 on the Global 500 Fortune companies’ index, and number 84 in the top 500 Chinese enterprises, number 14 in Chinese private enterprises 500.
Founded in 1992, the company’s sales revenue was US$44,9 billion last year.
It has 80 000 employees, including 46 000 non-Chinese employees and it is widely expected to create hundreds of jobs in Zimbabwe given the range of operations it has set in motion, a development that feeds into Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.
Tsingshan is committed to producing high-quality, environment- friendly and low-cost stainless-steel products, whose output last year was over 10 million tonnes.
It has been operating in Zimbabwe for 10 years, first in Selous in Mashonaland West, then Hwange and now in Mvuma in the Midlands Province.
Recently, the group said its Dinson Colliery Company in Hwange had started heating up its new furnace in preparation for the start of metallurgical coke production at the US$30 million plant.
Dinson is one of the nine new coal mines and coking plants that were visited by President Mnangagwa in July last year and is set to become the largest and most advanced coke oven in Zimbabwe.