Zimbabwe: Steelmakers Set to Triple Coal Output

Zimbabwe: Steelmakers Set to Triple Coal Output

STEEL manufacturing company Steelmakers, which began coal production two months ago, aims to boost its coal production from the current 30 000 tonnes per month to 100 000 tonnes by March, and has already come to the rescue of three top industries by supplying them with badly needed coal.

Through its new coal-mining subsidiary Chiredzi Ores of Athracite Lignites (COAL Zimbabwe), Steelmakers is mining coal for its own consumption at its iron and steel works in Redcliff and at its Masvingo sponge iron subsidiary, which trades as Sponge Iron Mining Beneficiation Industry (Simbi).

Steelmakers group general manager Alexander Johnson said the company was selling its surplus coal to sugar refinery ZSR, the Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company (ZIMASCO) and tyre manufacturer Dunlop. Supplies to Zim Alloys will commence soon.

“While we were in the process of trying to satisfy our needs, other industries in Zimbabwe in need of coal have inquired and bought the product for their own use,” Johnson told The Financial Gazette during a tour of the steel works’ plant. “Fifty percent of output will be consumed by our company. Wherever there is a vacuum, we will fill it. The market is huge and demand is growing.”

Hwange, once considered one of the top producers of coal in Africa, is battling to mine adequate supplies to feed local industries due a critical shortage of hard currency to source spare parts for equipment and the plant. Hwange produced 195 000 tonnes in July, below the national demand of 300 000 tonnes per month. The shortfall has prompted most manufacturers to commit scarce foreign currency resources on importing expensive but inferior grade coal from neighbouring countries, among them South Africa and Botswana.

Steelmakers, which commenced operations in 1998, manufactures hot roll steel products for both the domestic and regional markets in the engineering, mining and agricultural sectors. It exports steel products to South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique.

Copyright © 2006 Financial Gazette. All rights reserved

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