Manhize steel plant power connection next week A section of Dinson Iron and Steel Company plant

Patrick Chitumba, [email protected]

THE US$1,5 billion iron and steel plant in Manhize near Mvuma is set to be connected to power next week as the company gears to conduct critical test-runs to ensure that all components are working properly.

The test run, pencilled for 23 to 27 May will be followed by the commissioning of the plant tentatively early June, company officials have said.

The plant is expected to be one of Africa’s biggest integrated steelworks and is owned by Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco), one of the three local subsidiaries of China’s stainless steel producer, Tsingshan Holdings Group Limited.

The group also owns Dinson Colliery in Hwange in Matabeleland North and a ferrochrome plant; Afrochine Smelting Limited in Selous.

The giant investment positions Zimbabwe among the ranks of global steel manufacturing hubs, with projections indicating the country’s potential to emerge as a future powerhouse in the steel and iron industry.

Once a dense forest and bushes, the landscape has given way to a thriving industrial hub, as buildings emerge from the wilderness.

Staff houses, warehouses and other essential infrastructure have been constructed, paving the way for the steel giant to commence production. In an interview yesterday, Dinson public relations manager, Mr Joseph Shoko, said they now have electricity at Manhize plant.

“We have completed the 88kV from Sherwood block in Kwekwe and now at the local substation,” he said.

Mr Shoko said the company engineers were working towards energising the plant with the limestone plant now under tests and leakage assessments.

“Finer touches are in progress and most likely in June production will start. Energising is connecting power to the plant itself from substation,” said Mr Shoko

He highlighted that the test run process will include the removal of impurities such as silicon dioxide from the blast furnace in the process of making iron.

The calcium carbonate in the limestone reacts with the silicon dioxide to form calcium silicate (also known as slag).

In short, limestone is a purifier.

“On 23 to 27 May, we will power the plant and it will make a lot of noise. So, we will soon conscientise the local community not to panic because it’s a noise that can cause chickens to fail to lay eggs,” said Mr Shoko.

“That then marks the production of thermal electricity. So, for around four to five days the noise will be experienced but it will die down.”

Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries chief operating officer, Mr Dosman Mangisi, said the commencement of operations at the steel plant will definitely yield a major impact and change to the local industry.

“The local industry is grappling with the shortage of raw materials and the knock-on effect has depressed production by companies in engineering, iron and steel sector, including foundries. We are geared to tap into the opportunities presented by the operationalisation of that plant,” he said.

Mr Mangisi said his organisation with over 200 members hoped to see its membership grow rapidly as a result of the commencement of production at Dinson.

Disco is projected to produce 600  000 metric tonnes of products in the first phase, rising to 1,2 million tonnes in the second phase then 3,2 million tonnes in the third phase and ultimately five million tonnes per year in the final phase, earning the country millions of dollars in foreign currency.

Other products that the company will eventually produce include pipes, bolts and nuts, smaller slags, rolled tubes, fences, shafts, wires and bars, among others.

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