Zisco Targets Firing Up Units

State owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) has come up with a short-term revival strategy targeting resuscitation of the subsidiaries, an official said.

Acting board chairperson, Engineer Martin Manuhwa, revealed the new strategy while briefing an inter-ministerial task-force set up to oversee the revival of the integrated steelworks during a familiarisation tour of the plant last Thursday.

Zisco stopped operations in 2008 due to lack of capital to recapitalise and poor management. With its furnaces having capacity to produce up to one million tonnes annually, the company was among Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners.

Eng Manhuwa said while the Government was working on courting potential investors for long-term plans, there was a need to focus on reviving subsidiaries in the short term.

Ziscosteel either partly or wholly owns equity in companies including ZimChem, Lancashire Steel and Buchwa Iron Mining Company (BIMCO), the holder of iron concessions.

“We have done an assessment in the short-term in the Ziscosteel revival roadmap, which will begin by looking at how we can put back BIMCO into its mining operations,” said Eng Manhuwa. “We are currently selling waste and boulders among other things so that we can get capital to restart the operations.”

He said ZimChem was operating at a lower scale and more investment was needed to ramp up production. Plans were also underway to resuscitate the Zisco mills section selected sections for manufacturing processes whose output would provide feed stock for Lancashire Steel. “We want to put back production of lime from lime fields, we also want to resuscitate the mills section with our four rolling mills as well as the bar rod mill, which makes billets and other sections for the manufacturing process.”

“The board and management are working flat out on the thrust that we revive Zisco’s subsidiaries, which are a low hanging fruit. We have the Zisco coke ovens and the ZimChem, which are lucrative subsidiaries and when revived can go a long way in helping revive Ziscosteel,” said Eng Manuhwa.

He said the long-term revival efforts would be done once the Government secures a serious investment partner. Eng Manhuwa said there was scope for positive prospects at Zisco, adding the company was ripe for local, regional and international investors.

Recently, Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza said there was a renewed interest from international investors, particularly in Australia and China following the collapse of negotiations between the company and R & F of China late last year.

Eng Manuhwa said the desire was to make Zisco an anchor of steel supplies in the region.

“We have missed opportunities in terms of supply of iron and steel to major construction projects that took place like the Hwange Power Station Expansion and the Kariba one as well. The long-term thrust is, therefore, to come up with a robust strategy for the steel industry in Zimbabwe and a partner that would revive Ziscosteel using the latest technology and local content as much as possible,” said Eng Manuhwa. The development comes as the board announced the cancellation of the $255 million ZimCoke deal with a view of taking them over.

Zisco is 91 percent owned by the Government. The remaining 9 percent is held by Louth Minerals SA (3 percent), Tonexin Investments (2,8 percent), Stewarts and Lloyds (Overseas) (1,76 percent), Franconian Investments (0,81 percent), Amzim Limited (0,75 percent) and Zambia Copper Investment Limited (0,13 percent).

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