Another major mining venture takes off . . . global steel giant gives fresh impetus to attaining $12bn target

The Herald

Herbert Zharare and Ishemunyoro Chingwere

The country’s quest to attain a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 has received fresh impetus with Government announcing that an iron ore mine and carbon steel plant is scheduled for ground-breaking in May this year.

The project, which is being financed by Chinese mining giant — Tsingshan Holdings — is one of the ventures  taking off on the back of President Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” thrust.

President Mnangagwa met with Tsingshan Steel chairman Xiang Guangda, during his State visit to China in 2018.

This comes as Government continues to receive endorsements with the latest being two global mining giants — Australia Stock Exchange listed firm, Prospect Resources and New York Stock Exchange-listed Caledonia Mining Corporation — that indicated were impressed with their operations in Zimbabwe and the support they were receiving from the authorities.

Under the thrust, Government is prioritising private sector led growth as a means to revive the economy and foster growth towards upper middle income status by 2030.

Addressing a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, said Cabinet had been briefed on the mining sector progress and was impressed.

Of this brief, the Tsingshan steel project is one of the major highlights and a memorandum of understanding has already been signed with the Chinese mining giant in various mining projects including stainless steel.

Some minerals covered under the MOU include ferrochrome, coking coal, iron ore and carbon steel, flurolite and limestone, according to documents gleaned by The Herald

Tsingshan is one of the largest steel making giants globally, employing 80 000 people and has an annual output of 10 million tonnes of stainless steel with a turnover of $30 billion.

Said Minister Mutswangwa: “Cabinet was informed that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Tsingshan Steel for investment in mining projects towards the production of stainless steel.

“Production in the interim will commence with carbon steel. Tsingshan, through its subsidiary Afrochine, constructed two additional ferrochrome furnaces in 2020, and will construct additional furnaces in May 2021.

“The ground-breaking ceremony for the iron ore mine and carbon steel plant is scheduled for May 2021 in Manhize, Mvuma. A flurorite and limestone production plant will soon be set up.”

This comes as Tsingshan in 2018 became one of the first investors to show confidence in the new dispensation by signing a US$1 billion investment deal in the lucrative steel sub-sector.

“To enable the implementation of the project, Tsingshan had to invest in coke batteries.

“His Excellency the President in 2020 visited the first phase of the coke project, which will produce 150 000 tonnes per annum. This project is almost complete and the first coal feed into the battery will be on March 24, 2021, with a small ceremony marking the event. Production will be about 60 days late at which date or after which the coke battery will be officially commissioned by His Excellency, the President.”

To ensure accountability, transparency and environmentally friendly operations, Cabinet also directed that submission of a current tax clearance certificate is now a requirement for mining title renewal.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) will also undertake audits to ensure that contracted companies conduct their work according to set and agreed standards and regulations.

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Fidelity Printers and Refineries (FPR), will also issue a certificate of production from previous year and this is set to go a long way in curbing under-declarations as well as speculative holding of mining title.

Zimbabwe has lost valuable minerals to unscrupulous dealers who took advantage of some leaks that the Second Republic is now addressing.

Minister Mutsvangwa also advised that Cabinet had reviewed the ban on mining in rivers and directed that “de-siltation activities in portions of Angwa, Save and Mutebekwi rivers can commence subject to the condition that no chemicals are utilised and the structures of the rivers are not affected” by such mining operations.

This comes as some mining operations in some areas have changed the course of rivers, in the process affecting many villagers and other economic activities such as farming.

The de-siltation process, said Minister Mutsvangwa, shall be supervised on “a permanent presence” basis by officials from the Ministries of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Mines and Mining Development, with investor funding.

The Herald