Manhize steel plant ready to start operations The Manhize steel plant is expected to be one of Africa’s biggest integrated steelworks and is owned by Disco, one of the three local subsidiaries of China’s stainless steel producer, Tsingshan Holdings Group Limited.

Precious Manomano

Herald Reporter

TEST runs at the giant US$1,5 billion Manhize steel plant near Mvuma were highly successful at the weekend, paving the way for the commencement of operations next month, with Zimbabwe now well poised to be one of the biggest steel producers on the continent.

The company yesterday said the tests were conducted on at least five key components of the plant, which were found to be in sound condition and ready for production.

Trial runs were conducted on thermal power stations, the blast furnace, sintering plant, limestone processing plant and the oxygen plant, which were all functioning well.

Construction of an electricity substation has also been completed.

The Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco) last week switched on its limestone production unit, in preparation for the powering of the US$1,5 billion iron and steel plant for the tests, which began on Friday.

Disco public relations manager, Mr Joseph Shoko, said all was in order to kick-start operations mid-June.

“Cold commissioning will be done in mid-June and hot commissioning at the end of June,” he said.

“All is in order to kick start our operations. There were no challenges on the ground and everything is flowing well.”

The company has so far employed over 1 700 people from all parts of the country, with a greater percentage coming from Mashonaland East, Midlands and Mashonaland West.

Mr Shoko said they were targeting to recruit more people from across the country to boost manpower.

He said they had so far relocated 23 families affected by the mega-project, adding that they were also in the process of building better houses for them.

“More families will be relocated. We are in the process of building four bedroomed houses and two standard houses for those who were affected by the expansion of the industry,” he said.

Staff houses, warehouses and other critical aspects of the infrastructure had been constructed in preparation for commencement of production.

At least 3 000 people are set to be  employed under the first phase of the project.

The plant is projected to produce 600 000 tonnes of products in the first phase, rising to 1,2 million tonnes in the second phase, 3,2 million tonnes in the third and five million tonnes per year in the final phase.

The successful implementation of the Manhize steel project is a milestone achievement in Zimbabwe’s economic transformation journey and proof of the positive impact of the comprehensive reforms brought about by the Second Republic, led by President Mnangagwa.

Lime production is critical in the purification of iron ore, which often contains silicon dioxide (sand) impurities. These must be removed during the  process.

Company engineers said limestone decomposes in the heat of the furnace to calcium oxide, which reacts with the sandy impurities (silicon dioxide) to form slag.

Last week, our news team witnessed the process of lime production, which was taking place at Manhize, while the company prepared to conduct critical test runs to ensure that all components were working properly.

The plant was buzzing with activity as workers in different sections were putting the final touches on the units. 

Trucks carrying limestone, coal peas and other raw materials used in steel production were also lining up to offload the raw materials.

The test runs were eventually undertaken and will be followed by the official commissioning of the plant.

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