Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
Ziscosteel requires at least $1billion to restart operations following its closure about 10 years ago while the new investor will need 18 to 24 months to restructure and reconstruct blast furnaces before production can resume, chief executive, Mr Alous Gowo has said.
Mr Gowo, who was retained at the defunct steel giant on a temporary basis to facilitate hand over take over with the new Chinese investor, R &F Properties was briefing a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy meeting at the plant in Redcliff, near Kwekwe, yesterday.
He said the new investor was expected soon on the site to assess the current state of the company to starting resuscitation of the company. “This company has been shut for the last 10 years and there is a lot that needs to be done to revamp it.
“We had two furnaces that were working, one was decommissioned in 1999 while the other one was decommissioned in 2008 when the company closed. All these furnaces had reached their lifespan and would need major restructuring.
“We talk of about a billion (dollars) worth of investment needed for it to start working and this would need between 18 to 24 months before production can start,” he said.
Mr Gowo said Ziscosteel used to produce one of the best steels in the world and has a capacity to produce a million tonnes of steel per year when at full capacity.
“At full scale, we have the capacity to produce about a million tonnes of steel per year and usually 70 percent was for export while the remainder was for local consumption. We have one of the best steels because unlike other steel companies which use scrap, we use raw ore mined at our reserves to produce steel,’ he said.
Mr Gowo said the resuscitation of Ziscosteel will make many other companies move as they would need large amounts of coal as well as rail transport to move the product. “We used to get 75 000 tonnes of coal from Hwange and would use National Railways of Zimbabwe to transport our product, so these are our major stakeholders and the investors indicated that they would need to meet with such strategic companies soon,” he said.
He said progress on the resuscitation of the giant steel company which used to be one of the biggest steel works in Africa was put on hold as the Chinese were still celebrating their Christmas holidays which are done between January and February.
“The reason why the investor has not been here is because their year-end holidays are in January. But they have indicated that they are now back in the country and soon, meetings on the resuscitation of the company will start,” he said.