U$1bn steel project gathers pace

Africa Moyo-Deputy News Editor

Critical departments such as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Department of Immigration have been implored to speedily process requests from Tsingshan Holdings Group, which is undertaking the US$1 billion Manhize Iron Ore and Steel project.

This comes as some 50 advance professionals and heavy equipment are set to arrive from China in the next few weeks to help pace up the key project, which at peak, could become Africa’s second biggest steel plant.

A National Technical Committee that toured the sites for the project last Friday, was happy with developments so far.

The technical committee, chaired by Mines and Mining Development Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr Onesmo Moyo and other experts from Government, toured the sites to assess the group’s level of preparedness.

Tsingshan Holdings general manager Mr Benson Xu attended the assessment with other experts associated with the Chinese mining giant. 

Mr Benson said since the project would create up to 4 500 jobs for Zimbabweans, and other professionals, the group needed maximum cooperation.  

A report compiled after the tour notes that the road branching from Mavise turn-off to the right as one travels from Chivhu to Mvuma, needs to be worked on as it stretches to the smelting plant which houses offices, the blast furnace and accommodation for 300 workers. 

The report adds that there was a tussle between Chikomba District, located in Mashonaland East Province and Chirumhanzu District located in the Midlands Province, to win a smelting plant settlement on a land of 8 400 hectares within each administrative district’s boundaries. 

It is understood that after the investor’s cost benefit analysis and geological assessments, they favoured Chirumhanzu where the smelting plant would be located in Phase 1 and works are underway. 

Site manager Mr Jonson Bai said the dust road from Mavise turn-off to the plant site would be tarred while a bridge would be constructed at Munyati River. 

The mining town’s settlement is yet to be determined, but indications are that it would be located in Chirumhanzu. 

Phase 2 of the mining project would be located at Chikomba District’s Manhize next year as three quarters of the iron block is located in Chikomba. 

A dam is also to be constructed along Munyati River as the plant needed a lot of water for its operations.  

Mr Johnson added that the road network leading to the smelting plant would be gravelled this year before being tarred next year, including other road that connect to the smelting plant. 

Tsingshan Group, with support from Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, would construct a bridge this year. 

At the smelting plant, about 26km from Mavise Turn-off, some staff quarters are already being constructed. The smelting plant would have a blast furnace, offices for various departments at the Tsingshan Plant and a police post. 

A 95km high voltage power line is set to be constructed and completed before the commissioning of the plant next year, while a backup power line of the same voltage would be constructed from Selous near Chegutu, a distance of about 97km to the smelting plant.

This project is expected to be completed in 2023. 

But temporary low voltage power line from Chikomba is to be connected within two weeks for use during the construction phase at the plant. 

Mr Phanuel Mangisi, EMA’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Protection Manager, expressed the agency’s eagerness to cooperate with Tsingshan. 

Dr Moyo said he was grateful to the National Technical Committee’s commitment, especially considering that authorities want “a good result at the end of the day”.

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