Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
The Tsingshan Group, which is building a giant carbon steel plant in Mashonaland East Province, says it was convinced to invest in Zimbabwe following the Second Republic’s “Open for Business” policy.
The group has already transformed the lives of many Chegutu youths through its subsidiary, Afrochine Smelting Plant located in Selous.
It is expected to contribute at least US$1,2 billion towards the US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
When operating at full throttle, Tsingshan will employ about 4 500 people through the DISCO Smelting and Mining plant near Manhize mountains near Chivhu.
At least 500 expatriates from China will be part of the project in its initial stages.
Speaking at Afrochine recently after the tour of the smelting plant by an inter-ministerial committee, which is supposed to be in charge of the successful roll-out of the carbon steel plant, led by Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura, the subsidiary managing director Mr Benson Xu said the Second Republic had renewed investor confidence.
“We pursued the steel plant in 2013 and 2014 because we had great vision for Zimbabwe. But from 2013 to 2017 there was no ‘open for business’ policy. We couldn’t achieve a lot of things,” he said.
“In May 2018, President Mnangagwa met the chairman and discussed the same issue of steel production in China before signing a memorandum of understanding. The chairman further strengthened the agreement in 2019.”
Mr Xu said due to the conducive environment, the company has set up three new furnaces to add to the two that it kick-started the project with, adding the investment had seen many Zimbabweans getting jobs.
“Our stay here which now spans close to 10 years, has given us confidence of investing in Zimbabwe and we are excited to contribute to the Ministry of Mines’ road map of US$12 billion (mining) economy.”
He said Afrochine was producing 150 000 tonnes of ferrochrome annually, a fraction of Tsingshan’s three million tonnes’ annual requirement.
“The potential is huge and even after we set up a plant in Chivhu, it is not enough to satisfy our internal consumption which means there is a lot of room to fill up in the future,” added Mr Xu.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the ground-breaking ceremony of Manhize project will be done end of July this year.
“In terms of the time lines, we don’t have much time in the sense that the chairman of Tsingshan comes towards the end of July, so by then His Excellency President Mnangagwa will be going to Manhize for the ground-breaking ceremony,” he said.
Minister Chitando said the Manhize project, which is expected to sit on 3 000 hectares, will be transformed into an urban centre.
The ministries of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, of Local Government and Public Works, of Energy and Power Development, and of Transport and Infrastructural Development, make up the inter-ministerial committee.
Mines Permanent Secretary Mr Onesimo Moyo chairs the committee.