Prosper Ndlovu in Harare
THE revival of Ziscosteel will cut $350 million worth of steel imports and generate in excess of $1 billion in export earnings, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha said yesterday.
Responding to questions during a ZimTrade 2017 Exporters’ Conference here, Dr Bimha said the $1 billion investment deal with the Hong Kong-based R and F Company was sealed and nearing success.
“The Ziscosteel deal is a very live issue and we continue to engage with our investors, R and F Company from Hong Kong. We are in the process of finalising implementation and believe in a short while we will avail more details and information to you,” he said.
“We are spending $350 million importing steel products, which we can save if Zisco goes on line. But Zisco production will exceed local demand and generate $1 billion more in terms of export earnings. The investors are not into steel making but are the providers of the capital.”
Government recently sealed the deal for the revival of the iron and steel giant with the Chinese company in an arrangement that will result in one million tonnes of steel being produced in the next 18 months.
It is projected that the investment might rise to $2 billion upon completion of all the implementation stages. The Chinese investor, R and F Company, is also involved in various investments ranging from mining to real estate and tourism.
Dr Bimha is on record as saying R and F was not just interested in the rehabilitation of Zisco, but also expanding steel processing in the country, including production of stainless steel products.
“We have already agreed with them on their framework of the operation,” he said recently adding that he has already engaged his Mines and Mining Development counterpart, Walter Chidhakwa, who assured the Chinese investors of the availability of all the resources they would require.
Government has allayed fears that the new project might fail to materialise the same way the Essar Holdings deal did. The Indian firm, Essar, pulled out of the Ziscosteel deal after commitment in 2011. The deal, worth an estimated $750 million, was stalled by numerous squabbles, including mineral rights and other technicalities. The then Minister of Industry and Commerce in the inclusive Government, Professor Welshman Ncube, was also accused of bungling the Essar deal.