BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
The Midlands State University (MSU) is set to establish a modified coal tar manufacturing venture, which according to the higher learning institution, will cut on the costly bitumen imported from South Africa and meet the needs of the local and regional road construction industry.
According to the project concept document, MSU has already patented the modified coal tar product through the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation.
The project follows research by the MSU faculty of science and technology on how to improve coal tar through nanotechnology.
“The preliminary studies conducted revealed that there will be 40% cost saving on road surfacing costs as a result of this new product developed by MSU,” part of the project document read.
Zimbabwe currently imports bitumen from neighbouring South Africa for its road needs, but the product is, however, considered to be expensive.
Once in full gear, MSU has proposed to name the new business venture as Zimbabwe Tar Company, with the plant established in Zvishavane where the institution has a campus.
MSU acting vice-chancellor research and academic affairs, Alois Chiromo, said Zvishavane was strategic in that there are asbestos dumpsites belonging to the once-thriving Shabanie and Mashaba Mines.
“Zvishavane is quite strategic because we have asbestos dumpsites fibre readily available,” Chiromo said during a recent tour of the plant site.
He said the new product would consist of 98% coal tar and 2% silicon nanoparticles.
Chiromo said the plant in Zvishavane would only make raw materials that would be mixed with coal tar to produce modified coal tar at road construction sites.
MSU Zvishavane campus director Advice Viriri said the plant would create over 2 000 jobs once operational.
“We are looking at employment creation of 2 500 jobs in and around Zvishavane,” he said.
Viriri said the modified coal tar business venture would resuscitate ailing companies such as Shabanie and Mashaba Mines and Zimchem Refineries, among others that are key partners in the value chain process.