Cost of products hits foundry industry 

Source: Cost of products hits foundry industry | The Sunday News March 17, 2019

Thandeka Matebesi, Business Reporter

THE high cost of production has significantly affected capacity utilisation at most foundry companies in the country, an official said.

Zimbabwe Institute of Foundrymen (ZIF) vice-president Mr Itai Zaba said the foundry industry’s capacity utilisation has been hovering around 40 percent largely due to a sharp increase in raw materials used in the production of cast iron.

“Suppliers of raw materials such as coal and scrap metal are either charging exorbitant prices or demanding paying in US dollars. It has to be noted that coal is a basic raw material in the production of cast iron but of late it has become difficult for most players to source it as a number of suppliers are demanding payment in foreign currency, which is difficult to access considering that we market our finished products locally,” said Mr Zaba. 

He also said there was a need for the Government to expedite the banning of scrap metal exports so as to enhance production capacity at foundry companies as well as the downstream industries benefiting from iron cast production. 

“We have made a number of submissions to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce seeking the banning of scrap metal exports but we are still to get a response. Scrap metal is still being exported to date despite the fact that it’s difficult to obtain in the country as most of it is attained after care and maintenance programmes that would have been done by companies at their plants. Continued exportation of scrap metal is likely to ground the foundry industry,” said Mr Zaba.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe could save more than $10 million per month and hundreds of jobs if it stops exporting scrap metal and beneficiate it locally. The main foundry end product are millballs, which are used in gold mining, especially in small-scale operations and the sector uses several tonnes of millballs per month.

The industry also manufactures iron bars for local and export markets mainly used in the construction industry, chain links for conveyor belts, agriculture products like plough wheels, bearings for the sugar industry and several other steel products.