Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Bureau
GWERU-based giant ferrochrome producer, Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys), is set to double its production capacity and diversify to low carbon ferrochrome after securing a $100 million investment from Balasore Alloys Group of India.
ZimAlloys general manager Mr Mike Dzinoreva said the new investor will expand the company’s smelting capacity to 20 660 tonnes of ferrochrome per month from 10 330 tonnes per month. Mr Dzinoreva said the company will construct a new Sintering Plant for the processing of chrome fines (alluvial) to produce low carbon ferrochrome.
He said the company will also construct six alluvial concentrate smelting plants at different mining site. Chrome fines constitute more than 70 percent of the country’s chrome deposits and have been underutilised, hence the coming in of African Chrome Fields (ACF).
“We have plans of setting up six alluvial concentrate processing plants on different sites, with each producing a minimum of 5 000 tonnes monthly,” said Mr Dzinoreva. “Already, we have set up one plant jointly with a Chinese company at Sutton Mine where we are producing 5 000 tonnes.
“At the moment, we are using the product for export purposes, but when we resuscitate our plants we will feed it into our plant to produce a new product which is low carbon ferrochrome.”
Mr Dzinoreva said the company would be refurbishing two furnaces, M1 and A3, which have a combined production capacity of 4 330, under the first phase scheduled for the first six months of 2018. He said the remaining A1 and A2 furnaces would be refurbished under the second phase.
“In terms of our refurbishment programme, we are going to start with our A3 furnace which is the biggest furnace in the country and has a capacity to produce 4 000 tonnes of ferrochrome per month,” said Mr Dzinoreva.
“Most of its infrastructure is still in place and its easier to resuscitate it. In terms of our refurbishment plan, we are expecting the A3 to come on line in 2018 and we expect the M1 furnace to come on line in the first quarter of next year.
“In 2019 and 2020, we will have more smelting capacity where we will bring on line the A1 and A2 furnaces that have the capacity of producing 3 000 tonnes of ferrochrome a month each. When we achieve that furnace configuration, we should be able to produce 10 330 per month, which will give us a total output of more than 120 000 per annum.”
Mr Dzinoreva said the company was targeting extracting more than one million tonnes of chrome ore per month within the next three years.
“We are targeting extracting more than 300 000 tonnes next year and a year after we are expecting to extract 700 000 tonnes of chrome ore,” he said.
Mr Dzinoreva said the company was working towards an International Standards Organisation re-accreditation for its products to be competitive on the international market. Balasore Alloys Group, formerly Ispat Alloys Limited, is part of the renowned Ispat group of Companies, a major business house in India, promoted by the Mittals.
The group’s companies are spread across six countries, including Libya, Bosnia, Philippines, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. The company is working on dumps inclusive of one commissioned in 2013 in a partnership with a Chinese firm, Jinan, in a deal worth about $2,3 million.
ZimAlloys was put under final judicial management after the ferrochrome producer’s debt had risen to alarming levels. Bad debt-buying company Zimbabwe Asset Management Company last year agreed to take over $21 million worth of the group’s non-performing loans in a bid to clean the company’s balance sheet.
ZimAlloys, together with Zimasco, jointly control about 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s chrome ore claims, mostly found along the Great Dyke.