Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has pledged to support Redcliff-based Steelmakers Private Limited to get sufficient raw materials to boost production which is being hampered by lack of scrap metal.
Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister, Larry Mavima, said this during a familiarisation tour of the company last Tuesday. As the largest employer in Redcliff, he said, Steelmakers played a pivotal role in the province’s economy in line with the devolution thrust.
The company used to rely on Ziscosteel for its raw material and is now operating at 50 percent capacity owing to a shortage of scrap metal, its major raw material.
Minister Mavima said he was going to push for the ban on the export of scrap metal so that it benefits local companies first. “As Government, we are going to do what we can so that you are able to satisfy your feedstock supply to guarantee maximum production.
“As one of the biggest steel manufacturers not only in the province but the country at large, there is a need to acquaint ourselves with the steel manufacturing process so that we can be able to assist the organisation in overcoming the challenges which they are faced with, in this case a shortage of raw materials,” he said.
The Minister said it was prudent for the scrap exporting licences to be given to steel manufacturing companies, which are directly affected as opposed to exporting it.
“Scrap is being exported and local companies are falling short as they cannot match the export prices since competition is high. We should be able to join hands and be able to convince Government to ban the export of the scrap metal,” he said.
“We would rather have those licences given to steel companies because by doing so, we will be creating chances of employment.”
With proper Government backing, the Minister said, Steelmakers should be able to embark on an expansion drive. He urged the company to consider wider expansion opportunities saying Government will be there to assist.
Steelmakers operations director, Mr Alamwar Upendra, said they were now doing most services in-house in pursuit of self-reliance.
“We are working hard to become self-sufficient. We started doing everything in-house. For instance, we are working on resuscitating our foundry and constructing our own water purification plant. We have since installed our own oxygen plant and we are also mining our own coal in Chiredzi in a bid to counter challenges of relying on other companies,” said Mr Upendra.
He urged Government to consider banning the export of scrap metal, saying it was a major barrier in the industry.
“If we get the scrap, make our products and value-add them, we can fetch more in exports than exporting it like scrap. We are therefore, calling on Government to seriously consider banning of scrap so that it benefits not only Steelmakers but the local market,” said Mr Upendra.
The company has 600 workers out of a possible 900 if operating at full throttle.
It produces about 2 000 tonnes of steel against a possible 5 000t per month.